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What Is a 2N3055 Transistor?

By L.J. Stone
Updated May 16, 2024
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The 2N3055 transistor is a diamond-shaped electronic device designed to control the movement of energy in larger operating systems. Transistors absorb volts and transform them into watts of energy. This transistor operates at 50 amperes (A), 60 volts (V), and 115 watts (W). It is designed for general use in a variety of electronics.

Approximately 1 inch (about 2.5 cm) in length, this transistor is a system of wires encased in silicon. Although silicon is not an electrical conductor, when used in transistors it is "doped" with arsenic, phosphorus, boron, or gallium. Doping is a process of coating one object with another chemical in order to enable the object to conduct electricity in a controlled way.

The transistor is named for its ability to amplify electric signals. In other words, it transforms a given amount of power into another, more powerful version of energy. The 2N3055 transistor runs on the bipolar exchange between negative and positive carriers within a device. For this reason, it is categorized as a NPN transistor. NPN transistors are commonly used because their rapidly-moving electron system creates large currents and fast operations.

The 2N3055 transistor functions as an amplifier, detector, or switch in medium- and high-power current circuits. Some hobbyists, for example, use it to design and repair television and car application parts. It may also be used for linear, or regulated, power supplies, audio amplifiers, and low-frequency power converters.

The 2N3055 transistor is based on an earlier model, the 2N3055 "power" transistor. The original model was developed by the Radio Corporation of America (RCA) in the early 1960s. As technology developed, the manufacturing process changed, and RCA produced a new model, the 2N3055 transistor. Both models are equally powerful, but their Safe Operating Areas, or their abilities to fully operate at their highest levels, differ.

The original 2N3055 "power" transistor had a 100% SOA, meaning that it could produce 115W while running on 60V at a case temperature of 77°F (about 25°C). By contrast, when this transistor operates at a high voltage, its current level is restricted. There are compensating benefits, however. The newer transistor model has a higher maximum frequency, making it more efficient at switching between power supplies than the original model. Additionally, its higher frequency response makes it more effective in audio amplifiers. High-operating versions with more secure SOAs are available from some suppliers; they are distinguished by the suffix "H."

The 2N3055 transistor tends to be reasonably priced. If looking for a lower power transistor, the 2N3054 is recommended. It operates at 25W, 55V, and 4A. If looking for a substitute for either the 2N3055 or the 2N3054 models, transistors in TO-220 packages, such as the MJE3055T, are good options.

When using transistors, it is important to consider the operating system to which they are being applied, the energy sources used, and the age of the appliance. As technology changes, new models are sold that do not necessarily work with older appliances. In some cases, a transistor mount may be required for safety reasons, as transistors may become hot while in use.

EasyTechJunkie is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By anon332572 — On Apr 30, 2013

Can a 2N3055 transistor be used as a high power diode?

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