Knowledge Center
Knowledge Center

Electrostatic Discharge (ESD)

Transfer of electrostatic charge.


Electrostatic discharge, or ESD, is the rapid and spontaneous transfer of electrostatic charge that occurs between two bodies at different electrostatic potentials. ESD is frequently encountered in everyday life: walking across a carpet then touching a metal doorknob, for example. It’s much more dangerous for electronics, however, and requires the use of grounding protection methods.

In an integrated circuit (IC), an ESD event typically induces electrical currents on the order of 0.1–10 amps, which lasts between 10-6 and 10-3 seconds, and dissipates energy on the order of 10–100 watts.

ESD protection methods direct the ESD currents through unpowered devices along intended discharge paths while limiting voltage to a safe level. There are a number of schemes using pull-up and pull-down diodes, ESD resistors, ESD diodes, and back-to-back connected diodes.

ESD has a long history in semiconductors, dating all the way back to studies done by Bell Labs in the early 1960s, when researchers were concerned about the impact of lightning strikes on chips. But for the most part, these issues have largely been contained through extra circuitry, or margin. At advanced nodes, those margins are shrinking, so containing ESD becomes more difficult.


What To Do About Electrostatic Discharge