Decades ago when integrated circuits first came out in consumer products and computers, they were unusually susceptible to ESD or static discharges of electricity. These initial devices typically employed TTL or Transistor Transistor Logic, which is now considered a rather rugged technology compared to modern MOSFET (Metal Oxide Semiconductor Field Effect) transistors that have a thin gate oxide (sometimes as little as 1 nanometer) that is easily punctured by an errant voltage.
In most cases, the older TTL devices would simply latch or lock-up and a reboot was necessary along with a spray of Static Guard or some other anti-static chemical to prevent recurrence. Engineers designing these circuits got more experienced at designing them so that external discharges would not perturb the device, and for a long while, static electricity has not been a consideration except when replacing internal components on a board or in a computer.
But with the numbers and density of the MOSFET transistors on an integrated circuit not only growing exponentially, it has become more sensitive because the feature sizes of the transistors themselves have grown smaller and smaller, well past the deep sub-micron range and into the low nanometer scale, and the unwelcome specter of ESD damage has returned. Even if not caused by a static discharge, it is not uncommon to find that a number of consumer electronics plugged into the wall socket has been permanently damaged after a severe thunderstorm or other electrical outage.
It only takes about 100 – 300 V of static electricity to damage a transistor, which is well below the threshold of 3000 V that you feel from a shock when touching a grounded metal object after walking across a carpeted floor on a cool, dry day. Sparks with voltages upwards of 30,000 volts are not uncommon under certain conditions and can easily wreak havoc on mission critical equipment.
Contact ScanTech for an evaluation of your environment to detect conditions, materials and procedures that may be causing equipment malfunction, employee / patient shock incidents and possible explosion hazards in hospitals, clinics, biomedical labs, warehouses, data centers and areas with expensive and sensitive equipment. Data derived from special instrumentation designed to measure static electricity and the effectiveness of anti-static protocols such as static dissipative vs. static conductive will be used to suggest the best course(s) of action.
In addition, ScanTech has the equipment to measure and perform a variety of electromagnetic field (AC / DC / RF) EMF and EMI testing as well as the detection of harmful radioactive material.