A diode is a specialized electronic component with two electrodes called the anode and the cathode. Most diodes are made with semiconductor materials such as silicon, germanium, or selenium. Some diodes are comprised of metal electrodes in a chamber evacuated or filled with a pure elemental gas at low pressure. Diodes can be used as rectifiers, signal limiters, voltage regulators, switches, signal modulators, signal mixers, signal demodulators, and oscillators.
The fundamental property of a diode is its tendency to conduct electric current in only one direction. When the cathode is negatively charged relative to the anode at a voltage greater than a certain minimum called forward breakover, then current flows through the diode. If the cathode is positive with respect to the anode, is at the same voltage as the anode, or is negative by an amount less than the forward breakover voltage, then the diode does not conduct current. This is a simplistic view, but is true for diodes operating as rectifiers, switches, and limiters. The forward breakover voltage is approximately six tenths of a volt (0.6 V) for silicon devices, 0.3 V for germanium devices, and 1 V for selenium devices