What Is System Level ESD Protection?

Today’s electronics devices are enabled by a rich array of high performance data transceiver integrated circuits and interfaces (USB, HDMI, LVDS, Ethernet, etc.). As consumers demand higher performance electronics in smaller form factors, the chips enabling these products likewise scale to smaller process geometries. With each successive generation of IC development, achieving yet smaller form factors and thus smaller process nodes, these devices exhibit an increased vulnerability to damage or latch-up from electrostatic discharge (ESD) threats.

To adequately safeguard today’s 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 and transient voltage protection solutions to safeguard the most advanced data interfaces on the market for industrial, telecommunication and automotive applications.

ESD Diagram

What Is ESD?

Electrostatic discharge is a natural phenomenon that occurs when electrons on the surface of materials are redistributed – either due to induction or triboelectric charging – in such a way to create a charge imbalance and thus an electric field. When a static electric field becomes sufficiently strong, the charges will 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, but they can have disastrous consequences for sub-micron microelectronic-based devices.

ESD-vulnerable Interfaces

Semtech transient voltage suppressor (TVS) circuit protection diodes safeguard data interfaces against damage or latch-up caused by ESD, lightning and other destructive voltage transients. Our protection devices feature low clamping voltage, low capacitance and low leakage current.

As a leader in the data interface protection market, Semtech TVS devices protect all of the key data ports and ESD-sensitive touchpoints commonly found on electronic systems. Here are just a few examples of the many data ports that our ESD protection portfolio safeguards.

  • Antenna
  • Audio
  • Ethernet
  • HDMI
  • HD-SDI
  • Keypad
  • LVDS
  • RS-232
  • RS-485
  • SD Card
  • USB 2.0
  • USB 3.x
  • Vbus
  • xDSL

How to Choose an ESD Protection Device

Choosing the right circuit protection device is critical and often a significant 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 be robust, arrest high peak ESD currents and perform consistently throughout the lifetime of the component.

Semtech’s Shield brand devices offer proven TVS protection solutions for safeguarding specific data interfaces (USB, HDMI, Ethernet, etc.) against the destructive effects of ESD, surge and other overvoltage transient threats. The Shield series of TVS protection devices are highly optimized to insure that these interfaces are safely protected, thus enabling system designers to achieve faster time to market by exceeding the industry’s most stringent EMC requirements.