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Electrostatic Discharge Detector For Product Testing

One of the biggest challenges for an EMC product engineer is determining when and where an electrostatic discharge (ESD) event occurs within a device. Doing so is especially difficult in highly compact mobile devices. It is almost impossible to add measurement sensors within said devices. Furthermore, such solutions do not allow for detection of ESD events after devices have been manufactured. This is a downfall as these detectors can be very useful for estimating product lifespan and for initiating countermeasures in software when an ESD event occurs.
Researchers have developed on die ESD detectors for determining when an ESD event occurs, the pin (or pad) at which the event has occurred, and the level of the event. Special care has been taken to make these detectors relatively small and reliable, allowing them to be placed even in low cost parts like commodity microcontrollers. These detectors could be used during product testing phases, to help determine how badly an ESD event impacts ICs within the design, to help debug problems by determining which circuit and/or which pin is impacted by an ESD event, and to help determine the effectiveness of hardware fixes by allowing the engineer to measure the size of the event at the pin before and after the countermeasure is enacted. These detectors could also be used in the field to determine when an ESD event occurred and how large the event was. Once detected, the system could initiate a quick reaction, for example, by initiating a fault recovery software routine, predicting product lifespan, or recommending the appropriate maintenance. 

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University of Missouri- Rolla

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