IC ULN2803 consists of octal high voltage, high current darlington transistor arrays. The eight NPN Darlington connected transistors in this family of arrays are ideally suited for interfacing between low logic level digital circuitry (such as TTL, CMOS or PMOS/NMOS) and the higher current/voltage requirements of lamps, relays, printer hammers or other similar loads for a broad range of computer, industrial, and consumer applications.
- Eight Darlingtons with Common Emitter.
- Open–collector outputs.
- Free wheeling clamp diodes for transient suppression.
- Output Current to 500 mA.
- Output Voltage to 50 V.
- Inputs pinned opposite outputs to simplify board layout.
The ULN 2803 IC consists of eight NPN Darlington connected transistors (often called a Darlington pair). Darlington pair consists of two bipolar transistors such that the current amplified by the first is amplified further by the second to get a high current gain β or hFE. The figure shown below is one of the eight Darlington pairs of ULN 2803 IC.
Now 2 cases arise:-
Case 1: When IN is 0 volts.
Q1 and Q2 both will not conduct as there is no base current provided to them. Thus, nothing will appear at the output (OUT).
Case 2: When IN is 5 volts.
Input current will increase and both transistors Q1 and Q2 will begin to conduct. Now, input current of Q2 is combination of input current and emitter current of Q1, so Q2 will conduct more than Q1 resulting in higher current gain which is very much required to meet the higher current requirements of devices like motors, relays etc. Output current flows through Q2 providing a path (sink) to ground for the external circuit that the output is applied to. Thus, when a 5V input is applied to any of the input pins (1 to 8), output voltage at corresponding output pin (11 to 18) drops down to zero providing GND for the external circuit. Thus, the external circuit gets grounded at one end while it is provided +Vcc at its other end. So, the circuit gets completed and starts operating.