Often the possibility of Electrostatic discharge (ESD) is overlooked in the process of product engineering, but it can have a significant impact on electronic devices. Transients pose a serious threat to the reliability and functionality of sensitive electronic components, leading to increased costs, customer dissatisfaction, and potential safety hazards. A product that passes EMI compliance may still be susceptible to latent or field failures through ESD.

Quell brings its patented filter technology to bear on protecting circuits from ESD. These specialty ESDSeal™ connector inserts serve as a new line of defense against the most common threat to electronic systems.

Understanding the ESD Challenge

The source of most ESD is human contact.

Electrostatic discharge occurs when two objects with different electrical potentials come into contact or are brought close together, resulting in the rapid flow of electricity between them. The human body feels a shock when the voltage is higher than about 3,500 volts. Walking over a carpet can generate 35,000 volts. The current transferred by an arc can range from 1 to 15 amps and lasts just a few nanoseconds. This is enough, however, to disrupt the performance of sensitive surface-mounted devices (SMDs) and even render components completely nonfunctional.

When a person who has accumulated static charge—through friction between clothing and skin for example—touches a cable or other conductive objects inside an electronics system, the charge can be transferred through to the circuits.

Keeping workers who handle the devices in laboratories or manufacturing environments grounded is one way to prevent disruptions from ESD. Once a product is in the field, though, other assurances must be employed to protect sensitive components.

One Easy Retrofit Eliminates Transient Response in Devices and SMDs

Without proper transient protection, some components exposed to discharge can experience voltage overstress, leading to degradation, reduced lifespan, or complete failure.

Design of boards can include important components that absorb the discharge. There are three ways designers can eliminate the risk of electrostatic interference:

  1. Transient Voltage Suppression (TVS) diodes are designed to protect sensitive electronics from voltage spikes, surges, and transients. They provide transient voltage protection by diverting excessive voltage away from the protected circuit. When a voltage surge occurs, the TVS diode rapidly switches to a low impedance state, providing a low-resistance path for the excess current to flow through. Transient voltage suppressors have fast response times and can clamp the voltage to safe levels, protecting the SMDs from excessive voltage stress. TVS diodes are commonly used in applications such as power supplies, communication systems, automotive electronics, and sensitive electronic devices.
  2. Varistors—also known as voltage-dependent resistors (VDRs)—are non-linear, variable resistors that provide voltage-dependent transient protection. They are made from ceramic or metal oxide materials and exhibit a highly nonlinear voltage-current characteristic. When the voltage across the varistor exceeds a certain threshold, its resistance drops dramatically, allowing it to absorb and dissipate the excess energy. Varistors are often used for surge suppression in power distribution systems, consumer electronics, and industrial equipment.
  3. ESDSeal connector filters play a crucial role in mitigating the impact of ESD by providing an additional layer of protection at the point of electrical connection. These inserts, integrated within the connector assembly, act as filters to suppress and absorb the transient electrical energy associated with ESD events. By effectively reducing the amplitude and duration of ESD-induced voltage spikes, Quell filter inserts shield the connected electronic components from harmful effects.

While the addition of TVS and varistors may require changing the board design, filter inserts can be retrofitted to finished devices that may not have sufficient ESD protection. The silicone inserts slip into connector shells without soldering.

The original EESeal® product suppresses electromagnetic interference (EMI) and radio frequency interference (RFI). These inserts incorporate filtering elements, such as capacitors, inductors, or combinations thereof, which attenuate unwanted high-frequency noise signals. This ensures the integrity of the electrical signal, minimizing data errors, signal degradation, and interference with other nearby electronic devices. In this way, varieties of ESDSeal provide the same function as TVS diodes and varistors.

This method excels in providing protection against ESD events and safeguarding sensitive SMDs. The filtering elements within the inserts act as barriers, absorbing and diverting the transient energy of ESD away from the connected components. By limiting the voltage and current magnitude, filter inserts prevent excessive stress on the delicate circuitry, reducing the risk of damage, premature failure, or malfunction.

More Reliable Products with a Longer Life

The integration of ESDSeal inserts significantly enhances the reliability and longevity of electronic systems. By preventing ESD-induced failures, these inserts help minimize costly repairs, replacements, and warranty claims. This translates into improved customer satisfaction, reduced downtime, and enhanced brand reputation.

Connector filter inserts contribute to compliance with various regulatory standards and certifications. Industry standards, such as the ANSI/ESD S20.20 or IEC 61340 series, provide guidelines and requirements for controlling ESD in various industries, including electronics manufacturing.

Adhering to these standards helps ensure the reliable operation and longevity of electronic devices. ensuring the safe operation and electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) of electronic systems. Compliance with industry-specific standards, such as those outlined by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), or the European Union’s Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) directive, is vital in achieving market access and meeting customer expectations.

Quell’s connector filter inserts provide a robust solution for reducing product failure caused by ESD. Their ability to suppress EMI/RFI and protect against ESD events ensures the reliability, longevity, and safety of electronic systems.