A Thyristor and an SCR (silicon controlled rectifier) are essentially synonymous. A thyristor is a solid- state semiconductor device with four layers of alternating P- and N-type materials. It acts exclusively as a bistables witch, conducting when the gate receives a current trigger, and continuing to conduct while the voltage across the device is not reversed (forward-biased). A three-lead thyristor is designed to control the larger current of its two leads by combining that current with the smaller current of its other lead, known as its control lead. In contrast, a two-lead thyristor is designed to switch on if the potential difference (breakdown voltage) between its leads is sufficiently large.
Because thyristors can control a relatively large amount of power and voltage with a small device, they find wide application in control of electric power, ranging from light dimmers and electric motor speed control to high-voltage direct-current power transmission. Thyristors may be used in power-switching circuits, relay-replacement circuits, inverter circuits, oscillator circuits, level-detector circuits, chopper circuits, light-dimming circuits, low-cost timer circuits, logic circuits, speed-control circuits, and phase- control circuits.