# voltage direction confusion

This may look notoriously trivial to ask. we can see the direction of electron flow as indicated in the picture. the down side of the arrow must be the positive side of the voltage drop in each resistor, so two positive voltages + v_be=0 it implies v_be is a negative (-0.7 approx.). but in every book it's written that v_be=0.7 volts, is not it incorrect? or they are just talking about the absolute value of v_be?

as indicated in answer section, it is just a matter of convention. now let us see a second picture : a simple voltage divider JFET. Assuming these authors are following the same conventional current rules in all other circuits, here, the Gate-source voltage should be positive, as just like v_be, but this time it is negative. why?

• Your arrows correctly indicate the direction of the electrons flowing. However, current is defined as flowing in the opposite direction! So for circuits: only worry about current flow and forget about the electrons. Only when you're looking at how a diode or transistor works is it needed to look at electron flow. Jan 13, 2021 at 15:55
• @Bimpelrekkie And things like Lorentz's Law also use conventional current flow! Even if you have electrons flying through the air; No positive charges moving anywhere! I think...maybeI got it confused again. Jan 13, 2021 at 16:04
• @DKNguyen You're right, I wrote "Only when you're looking at how a diode or transistor works" but that's not 100% correct, also for understanding how vacuum tubes etc. (klystrons, magnetrons) work the electron flow is important. So better would be: Only when looking at circuits (including electro magnets) consider current flow, for most other cases, use electron flow. Jan 13, 2021 at 16:12
• @Bimpelrekkie I used to follow the general rule that "EEs look at conventional current flow and physicists look at electron flow" but that lead me terrible astray when I started looking at the Lorentz Equation and it was a while before I realized what the problem was. Ugh. Jan 13, 2021 at 16:15
• So went back to review...Lorentz's equation uses conventional current flow because q is negative for electron charge which flips the direction right back around again to electron flow on its own. So infuriating. Jan 13, 2021 at 16:42

Not notoriously trivial because the reason is notoriously silly.

Benjamin Franklin did not know what actually moved to carry electricity so had to guess a polarity for each charged component.

He guessed wrong but by the time we figured out it was the negative-assigned particle (electrons) that actually moved, it was too ingrained and difficult to change so most things continue to use so-called "conventional" current flow, not actual electron flow.

That is an N-channel JFET which looks like this:

https://www.tutorialspoint.com/basic_electronics/basic_electronics_jfet.htm

Note the P and N-doped silicon. That forms a diode. If your gate voltage is more positive than the source terminal, that forward biases the diode and produces a short which blows the JFET.

So an N-channel JFET must have a gate voltage that is more negative than the source so that the PN-junction is reverse biased. In your circuit, the way the voltage dividers and resistors are set up, the gate voltage is lower than the source pin voltage, even though both voltages are still positive when measured relative to GND. Also, unlike the JFET circuit, the PN junction in the BJT is forward biased and heavily influences what voltage will appear between R1 and R2 since it effectively puts a diode and Re in parallel with R2.

It is not obvious in your diagram because it is using a single supply and dividers. It is much more obvious in a diagram like this:

https://www.tutorialspoint.com/basic_electronics/basic_electronics_jfet.htm

• please see the edited version. Jan 13, 2021 at 16:06
• i think they are saying the terminal which is down that is as source. Jan 13, 2021 at 16:12
• @Sayan Yes, I believe you are correct that the more negative terminal is usually considered the source terminal in spite of the JFET's symmetry. That's an N-channel JFET with the main body being a hunk of N-silicone and gate being a hunk of P-silicon which forms a diode. That means if your gate voltage is more positive than the source voltage you forward bias the resulting diode and cause a short which blows the JFET. Jan 13, 2021 at 16:17
• That's why they say JFETs need a negative gate-source voltage: So that the PN junction remains reverse biased. It's not very obvious that is what is going on in the circuit since you have resistor dividers and a single supply source. If the circuit is functional, then the dividers must be producing a more negative/lower voltage at the gate than at the source. Jan 13, 2021 at 16:19
• @Sayan Perhaps what you are missing is how the forward biased diode in the BE junction affects the voltage at the divider on the base? It's not being controlled just by R1 and R2 like in the JFET circuit. Jan 13, 2021 at 16:38