common materials, often found in business and laboratory environments, are

common materials, often found in business and laboratory environments, are
Electrostatic Discharge (ESD)
Safety Guidelines
Copyright © 2003 Intel Corporation
1. Introduction
Electrostatic Discharge, or ESD, is defined as the transfer of charge between
bodies at different electrical potentials.
If you scuff your feet as you walk across a carpet, electrons move from the
carpet to you, leaving you with excess electrons. Touch a door knob and ZAP!
The electrons move from you to the knob. You get a shock, at a minimum of
3,000 volts (the threshold of human feeling)!
The kind of ESD shock you feel may also be responsible for damaging
electronic components in many computers and telecommunications systems.
While it takes an electrostatic discharge of 3,000 volts for you to feel a shock,
much smaller charges, well below the threshold of human sensation, can and
often do damage semiconductor devices. Many of the more sophisticated
electronic components can be damaged by charges as low as 10 volts.
2. How it Happens
Static electricity is defined as an electrical charge caused by an imbalance of
electrons on the surface of a material. Once the charge is created on a material
and it remains at rest on the material, it becomes an “electrostatic” charge.
An ESD event is a rapid transfer of charge (electrons) from one object to
another in an attempt to become electrically neutral.
Electrostatic charge is most commonly created by the contact and separation of
two electrically nonconductive materials. The amount and type of charge
(positive or negative) depends on the materials involved. The following
common materials, often found in business and laboratory environments, are
all sources of static electricity:
• common plastic bags
• common types of mending and packing tape
• paperwork
• common untreated plastic materials
• styrofoam cups
3. Types of ESD Damage
Static damage to components can take the form of upset failures or
catastrophic failures.
Upset Failure
Upset failures occur when an electrostatic discharge has caused a current flow
that is not significant enough to cause total failure, but in use may intermittently
result in gate leakage causing software malfunction or incorrect storage of
Catastrophic Failure
Catastrophic failures can be direct or latent.
Direct catastrophic failures occur when a component is damaged to the point
where it no longer functions correctly. This is the easiest type of ESD damage
to find since it usually is detected during initial testing.
Latent catastrophic failures occur when ESD weakens a component to the point
where it still functions correctly during testing, but subsequent minor electrical
overstresses or power surges during normal operation of the equipment cause
the component to fail. This type of damage is difficult to detect.
4. Controlling ESD
The basics of ESD control are simple, built on the following principles:
• Grounding
• Isolation
• Prevention
Grounding is a means of draining the static charges present on your body, by
use of a personal grounding device or a wrist strap. To function properly, a wrist
strap must always be worn snugly to assure skin contact at all times, and
grounded to a common point ground at a static-safe workstation.
CAUTION: To avoid possible damage to a circuit board, never remove the
board from its anti-static packaging unless you are personally grounded.
Conductive or dissipative work surfaces are also an integral part of the staticsafe workstation. As with the wrist strap, it is necessary for the work surface to
be clean and properly grounded to a common point ground.
Wrist Strap
types of Faraday cages commonly used in controlling ESD are metallized
shielding bags and the conductive tote box with a cover.
CAUTION: Do not remove circuit boards from anti-static packaging until you
are ready to commence installation.
These Faraday cages can carry static charges on their exterior that should be
dissipated before opening. Therefore, it is imperative that these protective
containers only be opened at a static-safe workstation by properly grounded
Isolation can also be accomplished by keeping charge generating materials
away from any ESD-sensitive items. This is best done by clearing your
workstation of:
• plastic bags
• cellophane tape
• paperwork
• common untreated plastic materials
• styrofoam cups
CAUTION: All computer boards are sensitive to electrostatic discharge. To
avoid possible damage, handle all static-sensitive boards, components, and
computers at a static-safe work area.
Isolation involves the packing of components and assemblies during storage
and transportation.
Static charges cannot penetrate containers that are made of conductive
materials or have a conductive layer. This effect is called the Faraday cage. The
Prevention is the area where you can make the biggest difference. Proper use
and implementation of ESD control materials are not the only weapons for
fighting the ESD battle. A number of common sense rules can be applied.
These rules do not require additional materials but are extremely effective in
preventing static damage.
• Never enter an ESD-sensitive area without taking the proper precautions.
• Test ground devices for correct operation on a daily basis.
• Open ESD-sensitive items only at a static-safe workstation.
• Always keep your workstation clean and clear of unnecessary material,
particularly common plastics.
• Place ESD-sensitive items on a dissipative surface, not on top of a blueprint
or other paperwork.
• Return ESD-sensitive items to their ESD-protective containers when not
actively working with the items.
• Do not hold ESD-sensitive items against your clothing. Even if you are
wearing a wrist strap, your body is grounded but your clothes are not!
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