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Question There seems to be some confusement concerning the detrimental effects of electrical fields in regards to electrostatic sensitive devices. Does the presence of E- fields pose a significant danger to ESD sensitive components? –Ronnie D. Miller, Union Switch & Signal Inc., Batesburg, SC
Answer Yes, charge induction is a real danger for ESD-Sensitive (ESDS) devices. An electric field, if strong enough, can charge either insulators or conductors. If an ESDS device becomes charged enough that when it is brought into near proximity or contact to ground potential on a conductor (conductive mat) and ESD event can occur following the Charge Device Model, ESD DS5.3.1.

Any ungrounded conductors can be charged to a large potential with respect to ground when brought near an electric field. An ESD event will naturally follow if the charged conductor is brought into contact or near proximity to ground (or any large potential difference) via a very conductive path (<1x103 ohms). This is why one of the most significant contributions to a good ESD control program is to remove all unnecessary charge generators (insulators) and ground all conductors. If a necessary insulator must be used in the process, it should be controlled with the appropriate control device such as an ionizer.

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