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I found a circuit where in the classical Graetz rectifier capacitors were added in parallel to each diode.

It looked something like this:

mysterious rectifier

After the rectifier itself, there was the usual huge capacitor and regulator and so on.

So why the smaller capacitors near the diodes?

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Beautiful CAD output! –  markrages May 13 '11 at 3:28
If I hadn't known that was a circuit diagram when I started looking at that it would have taken me a minute to figure out what it was. –  StephenPaulger May 13 '11 at 11:00
@markrages - fuzzy logic, no doubt! –  stevenvh Jul 13 '11 at 8:43

1 Answer 1

up vote 27 down vote accepted

Power supply transformers have leakage inductance and parasitic capacitance, and when the diodes in a bridge rectifier switch off these "non-ideal" elements form a resonant circuit that can oscillate at high frequency. This high frequency oscillation can then couple into the rest of the circuitry. Snubber circuits are used in an attempt to mitigate this problem. Just using capacitors doesn't damp the ringing completely, but does cause it to drop to a lower frequency where the coupling effect is less. An RC circuit across the diodes can damp the ringing almost completely.

You can read more in the following excellent paper: http://www.hagtech.com/pdf/snubber.pdf

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+1 for this excellent answer. Here's another source about how to determine the values of an RC snubber combination across a diode: ridleyengineering.com/snubber.htm –  zebonaut May 13 '11 at 6:32
It's fairly common to see capacitors across high-frequency rectifier diodes in power supplies, especially at higher voltages (48V or higher) where you can't get good Schottky rectifiers . The main purpose for the capacitors is to soften the commutation, reducing the amount of EMI generated. –  Adam Lawrence May 13 '11 at 16:57

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