Electronic – Is MOSFET gate threshold voltage a limit or minimal “Full-on” switching voltage


I've been shopping for some mosfet transistors, for a starter kit, and noticed listings that state a mosfet is suitable for 5v logic, but the data sheets says Gate Threshold is 1-2v.
4v gated mosfets, which are closer to 5v, by the same seller are not advertised as suitable.

I understand that applying Vgs voltage to the gate will switch the mosfet on, but how does it interact with different voltages?

So for example if a mosfet had Vgs range of 2-3 and I applied voltage ranges of 0-1,2-3,3-7 to it I assume it would go something like this (correct me if I'm wrong):

  • 0-1v – off
  • 2-3v – on with proportional conductivity (with 3v having maximum).
  • 3-7v – heat/burn?

Best Answer

The gate-source threshold voltage is the voltage that is required to conduct (usually) 100 uA of current into the drain. Different MOSFETs have different definitions and some devices define the threshold voltage at up to 1 mA drain current.

It's a fairly useful comparitive indicator of how a certain device might operate when given a proper logic level signal but it's always best to examine the data sheet. Typical you might find this: -

enter image description here

You can see V\$_{GST}\$ causes very little current to flow but raising the gate voltage above this you'll see that the device conducts far more current.

Usually, maximum rated voltages for MOSFET gates is +/- 20V and so there is a fair bit of margin between operate and damage levels.