What is Electrostatic discharge?
ESD can cause a range of harmful effects of importance in industry, including gas, fuel vapour and coal dust explosions, as well as failure of solid state electronics components such as integrated circuits. These can suffer permanent damage when subjected to high voltages. Electronics manufacturers therefore establish electrostatic protective areas free of static, using measures to prevent charging, such as avoiding highly charging materials and measures to remove static such as grounding human workers, providing antistatic devices, and controlling humidity.
ESD can create spectacular electric sparks (thunder and lightning is a large-scale ESD event), but also less dramatic forms which may be neither seen nor heard, yet still be large enough to cause damage to sensitive electronic devices. Electric sparks require a field strength above approximately 4 kV/cm in air, as notably occurs in lightning strikes. Other forms of ESD include corona discharge from sharp electrodes and brush discharge from blunt electrodes.
ESD simulators may be used to test electronic devices, for example with a human body model or a charged device model.