Causes of Electrostatic Discharge

Causes of Electrostatic Discharge

The human body has an electric field and under the right (and very easy to obtain) conditions can generate a tremendous amount of voltage, often referred to as static electricity.

ESD occurs when an imbalance in the amounts of positive and negative electrical charges on the surface of an object is released. The most dramatic example of ESD is lightning, which splits trees as easily as it lights up the sky. The amount of energy released when you touch a metal object can be quite large. The buildup of energy with nylon clothes can easily reach 21,000 volts. About 750 volts are required to produce a visible spark with ESD, while a mere 10 volts or so can ruin a computer chip.

The actual amount of energy in a given ESD event depends on the types of materials involved (wool fabrics generate less than nylon), the humidity (low humidity offers less resistant to the discharge), the amount of physical energy (friction) involved, and how quickly the energy is released.

ESD does not have to be seen (a spark) to do damage to electronic components. Voltages lower than 10 volts can damage some parts.

Last modified: Monday, 4 September 2017, 6:53 PM