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An Introduction to ESD

An Introduction to ESD

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Introduction to ESD
Introduction to ESD

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Published by: csc001 on Oct 06, 2009
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11/27/2010

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An Introduction to ESD
By The ESD Association
Static electricity has been an industrial problem for centuries. As earlyas the 1400s, European and Caribbean forts were using static controlprocedures and devices to prevent electrostatic discharge ignition of black powder stores. By the 1860s, paper mills throughout the U.S.employed basic grounding, flame ionization techniques, and steamdrums to dissipate static electricity from the paper web as it traveledthrough the drying process. The age of electronics brought with it newproblems associated with static electricity and electrostatic discharge.And, as electronic devices became faster and smaller, their sensitivityto ESD increased. Today, ESD impacts productivity and product reliability in virtuallyevery aspect of the electronic environment. Many aspects of electrostatic control in the electronics industry also apply in otherindustries such as cleanroom applications and graphic arts.Despite a great deal of effort during the past decade, ESD still affectsproduction yields, manufacturing costs, product quality, productreliability, and profitability. Industry experts have estimated averageproduct losses due to static to range from 8 to 33% (see Table I).Others estimate the actual cost of ESD damage to the electronicsindustry as running into the billions of dollars annually. The cost of thedamaged devices themselves ranges from only a few cents for asimple diode to several hundred dollars for complex hybrids. Whenassociated costs of repair and rework, shipping, labor, and overheadare included, clearly the opportunities exist for significantimprovements.
Static Losses ReportedDescriptionMin. lossMax. lossEst. avg.loss
Componentmanufacturers4%97%1622%Subcontractors3%70%915%Contractors2%35%814%User5%70%2733%Source: Stephen Halperin, "Guidelines for Static ControlManagement," Eurostat, 1990.
Table I. Informal summary of static losses by level.
 This article focuses on how electrostatic charge and discharge occur,how various materials affect the level of charge, types of ESD damage,and how ESD events can damage electronic components.
 
Static Electricity: Creating Charge
Static electricity is defined as an electrical charge caused by animbalance of electrons on the surface of a material. This imbalance of electrons produces an electric field that can be measured and that caninfluence other objects at a distance. Electrostatic discharge is definedas the transfer of charge between bodies at different electricalpotentials.Electrostatic discharge can change the electrical characteristics of asemiconductor device, degrading or even destroying it. Electrostaticdischarge may also upset the normal operation of an electronicsystem, causing equipment malfunction or failure. Another problemcaused by static electricity occurs in cleanrooms. Charged surfaces canattract and hold contaminants, making removal from the environmentdifficult. When attracted to the surface of a silicon wafer or a device'selectrical circuitry, these particulates can cause random wafer defectsand reduce product yields.Controlling electrostatic discharge begins with understanding howelectrostatic charge occurs in the first place. Electrostatic charge ismost commonly created by the contact and separation of two similaror dissimilar materials. For example, a person walking across the floorgenerates static electricity as shoe soles contact and then separatefrom the floor surface. An electronic device sliding into or out of a bag,magazine, or tube generates an electrostatic charge as the device'scase and/or metal leads make multiple contacts and separations withthe surface of the container. While the magnitude of electrostaticcharge may be different in these examples, static electricity is indeedgenerated.Creating electrostatic charge by contact and separation of materials isknown as
triboelectric charging
. It involves the transfer of electronsbetween materials. The atoms of a material with no static charge havean equal number of positive (+) protons in their nucleus and negative(–) electrons orbiting the nucleus. In Figure 1, Material A consists of atoms with equal numbers of protons and electrons. Material B alsoconsists of atoms with equal (though perhaps different) numbers of protons and electrons. Both materials are electrically neutral.
 
Figure 1. The triboelectriccharge of two materials incontact.Figure 2. The triboelectriccharge when two materials placed in contact are thenseparated.
When the two materials are placed in contact and then separated,negatively charged electrons are transferred from the surface of onematerial to the surface of the other material. Which material loseselectrons and which gains electrons will depend on the natures of thetwo materials. The material that loses electrons becomes positivelycharged, while the material that gains electrons is negatively charged(see Figure 2).

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