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What is System Level ESD Protection?

Today’s consumer, industrial and telecommunications electronics devices are enabled with a rich array of data interfaces, including USB, HDMI, LVDS, Ethernet, etc. These data channels are enabled by high performance IC transceivers – the chips that send/receive data on these communication buses. These IC chips are built on advanced process geometries, making them extremely sensitive to ESD events.

With each successive generation of IC development, achieving smaller form factors, and thus smaller process nodes, newer more advanced devices are all the more sensitive to ESD threats. To safeguard electronic systems from the damaging effects of ESD overvoltage stress, system level ESD protection devices are needed.

For over three decades, Semtech has been a market leader in providing high-performance ESD protection solutions to safeguard the most advanced data interfaces on the market.

What is ESD?

Electrostatic discharge is a natural phenomenon that occurs when electrons are redistributed in such a way to create a charge imbalance and thus an electric field. Either due to induction or triboelectric charging, when an electrical field is sufficiently strong the static charges seek equilibrium across the potential difference and a violent electrical zap known as an electrostatic discharge can occur. These common electrical shocks are benign to humans; they can mean disaster for microelectronic based electronics.

How to Choose an ESD Protection Device

Choosing the right circuit protection device is critical and often a non-trivial task. Not only must the ESD protection be rated appropriately for the transient conditions, but the electrical parameters of the ESD device must also not introduce unwanted signal integrity issues on a data interface. Good ESD protection typically features extremely fast response time, low operating and clamping voltage, low leakage current, and low capacitance. Semtech TVS diodes are highly engineered to arrest high peak ESD currents and are designed to be robust and perform consistently throughout the lifetime of the component.