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Fundamentals of Electrostatic Discharge
Part One --- An Introduction to ESD

 History & Background
    To many people, static electricity is little more than the shock experienced when touching a metal doorknob after walking across a carpeted room or sliding across a car seat. However, static electricity has been a serious industrial problem for centuries. As early as the 1400's, European and Caribbean forts were using static control procedures and devices to prevent electrostatic discharge ignition of black powder stores. By the 1860's, paper mills throughout the U.S. employed basic grounding, flame ionization techniques, and steam drums to dissipate static electricity from the paper web as it traveled through the drying process.     The age of electronics brought with it new problems associated with static electricity and electrostatic discharge. And, as electronic devices became faster and smaller, their sensitivity to ESD increased. Today, ESD impacts productivity and product reliability in virtually every aspect of today's electronics environment. Many aspects of electrostatic control in the electronics industry also apply in other industries such as clean room applications and graphic arts.
    Despite a great deal of effort during the past decade, ESD still affects production yields, manufacturing costs, product quality, product reliability, and profitability. Industry experts have estimated average product losses due to static to range from 8-33% (Table 1). Others estimate the actual cost of ESD damage to the electronics industry as running into the billions of dollars annually. The cost of damaged devices themselves ranges from only a few cents for a simple diode to several hundred dollars for complex hybrids. When associated costs of repair and rework, shipping, labor, and overhead are included, clearly the opportunities exist for significant improvements
 Static Electricity: Creating Charge
    Static electricity is defined as an electrical charge caused by an imbalance of electrons on the surface of a material. This imbalance of electrons produces an electric field that can be measured and that can influence other objects at a distance. Electrostatic discharge is defined as the transfer of charge between bodies at different electrical potentials.
    Controlling electrostatic discharge begins with understanding how electrostatic charge occurs in the first place. Electrostatic charge is most commonly created by the contact and separation of two materials. For example, a person walking across the floor generates static electricity as shoe soles contact and then separate from the floor surface. An electronic device sliding into or out of a bag, magazine or tube generates an electrostatic charge as the device's housing and metal leads make multiple contacts and separations with the surface of the container. While the magnitude of electrostatic charge may be different in these examples, static electricity is indeed generated.
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