6 ESD methods to protect PCB layout

6 ESD Methods to Protect PCB Layout
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    What is ESD?

    ESD stands for electrostatic discharge. Many materials can conduct electricity and accumulate electrical charges. ESD occurs due to triboelectric charging (friction between materials) or electrostatic induction. Whenever this happens, the object develops a fixed charge (static electricity) on its surface. When the object is placed too close to another charged object or material, the voltage difference causes an electric current to flow between them until the charge balance is restored.

    ESD electrostatic discharge
    ESD electrostatic discharge

    Therefore, an electrostatic discharge can be defined as the instantaneous flow of current between two charged materials or objects caused by contact, short circuit, or dielectric breakdown.

    For consumer products, ESD and dielectric breakdown in air typically occur when the electric field between two points is greater than 40 kV/cm. Factors such as air pressure, temperature and humidity can affect the strength of the electric field. For example, high humidity in some environments can cause the air to become more conductive, which can dissipate some of the charge and increase the voltage required for ESD.

    What are the two types of ESD?

    There are two primary types of ESD:
    Human-Generated ESD (HESD): This type of ESD occurs when a person, typically through movement or contact with an object, builds up an electrostatic charge on their body and then discharges it to a grounded object or another person or object. For example, walking on a carpet can create static electricity, and touching a metal doorknob can lead to a spark, which is an example of HESD.

    Machine-Generated ESD (MESD): MESD occurs in electronic components, devices, or manufacturing processes where machines and equipment generate static electricity. This can happen during the manufacturing, assembly, or handling of sensitive electronic components such as integrated circuits, printed circuit boards, and semiconductor devices. MESD can potentially damage or degrade these sensitive electronic components if not properly controlled.

    Both types of ESD can be problematic in various contexts, especially in industries where sensitive electronic equipment is involved. To mitigate the risks associated with ESD, measures like using antistatic equipment, grounding, and ESD-safe practices are employed to prevent damage to electronic components and devices.

    How does ESD affect PCB?

    Static electricity is relatively common in life, but the voltage of static electricity can reach several thousand volts, which can cause great harm to components.

    How does ESD affect PCB
    How does ESD affect PCB

    When this voltage difference is large enough, there will be a conduction path for current, resulting in a huge current pulse. As the current pulse develops, high heat is dissipated within the components and conductors of the PCB itself. Under extreme field strengths and generated currents, PCBs can be damaged and components can be destroyed.

    This heat dissipation is basically an IR voltage drop, where the natural DC resistance of the components in the PCB creates a voltage drop and reaches high temperatures. ESD can occur at some common locations on a PCB, so ESD protection in the PCB should focus on specific areas. For example:

    1. ESD in integrated circuits

    2. ESD in connectors

    ESD protection in PCB layout

    1. Optimize the impedance around TVS
    2. Limit EMI of electrostatic discharge
    3. Use VIA correctly
    4. Place ESD suppressor
    5. Correctly add vias between the ESD source and suppressor
    6. Proper grounding wiring

    FAQ-about PCB

    ESD stands for electrostatic discharge. Many materials can conduct electricity and accumulate electrical charges. ESD occurs due to triboelectric charging (friction between materials) or electrostatic induction. Whenever this happens, the object develops a fixed charge (static electricity) on its surface. When the object is placed too close to another charged object or material, the voltage difference causes an electric current to flow between them until charge balance is restored.

    • Human-generated ESD (HESD)
    • Machine-Generated ESD (MESD)

    1. Optimize the impedance around TVS
    2. Limit EMI of electrostatic discharge
    3. Use VIA correctly
    4. Place ESD suppressor
    5. Correctly add vias between the ESD source and suppressor
    6. Proper grounding wiring

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