What is ESD Protection?

For many years, people have realized the importance for ESD protection for electronic equipment. With increasing levels of integration, and shrinking of process geometries, damage induced by ESD presents a greater threat than ever before. With the addition of increasing demand for portable electronic gadgets, protection from ESD at the system level is more of an essential issue.

The advantage of providing systems with comprehensive ESD protection is far-reaching while being a low-cost way of preventing problems at any time in the life cycle of the product. When an ESD related problem remains hidden within a system, it often increases the chances of field failures, a reduction of system life, and other problems related to quality that is often challenging to manage and costly to resolve. Product recalls and field repairs including after-market costs can be financially crippling, while brand reputation takes a serious hit from quality issues.

One can find innumerable protection devices in the market, ranging from simple single-protection diodes to highly integrated complete companion ICs. Most ESD solutions come in a wide package portfolio, ranging from leaded to leadless packages. Furthermore, package innovations such as solderable side-pads are available that allow visual inspection, while pass-through routing packages ensure an optimal board layout together with an enhanced ESD protection as the designer can position the device closer to the interface. These are available for automotive and industrial applications.

BroadR-reach from Nexperia is a relatively new Ethernet standard targeting mainly automotive applications. Compared to regular Ethernet specifications, BroadR-reach has the advantage of not requiring any transformer. That increases the speed of signals per channel to 100 Mbit.

Typical applications for BroadR-reach are in vehicles as high-speed interface for ADAS or infotainment systems. The BroadR-reach ESD protection is meant for protecting the new 100 Mbit interface. Although single-channel protection is common, multi-channel protection is also available along with other devices.

Vehicles use Low-Voltage Differential Signaling or LVDS, DisplayPort, and High-Definition Multimedia Interface for in-vehicle networking and ultra-high-speed interfaces. Nexperia offers the PESD1LVDS for providing ESD protection for LVDS in vehicles. The device allows TMDS lines to pass-through while routing, easing the design, and minimizing parasitic influences. The PESD1LVDS is an ideal choice and popular for protecting high-speed interfaces in the automotive market, as the product is AEC-Q101 qualified.

Contactless ID functions are user-friendly due to their use of Near Field Communication or NFC standards. Typical usage includes easy contactless data transfers, ticketing in public transport, and contactless payment systems.

In most NFC designs, small contacts connect the NFC controller IC to the antenna. Therefore, these contacts provide an easy path for the entry of ESD, damaging the controller IC. Systems that use NFC essentially require external ESD protection. Nexperia offers the PESD18VF1BX and PESD24VF1Bx for minimizing the impact of impedance mismatch, loading on the antenna, and as optimal protection against ESD strikes in NFC systems.

General Purpose Input Output or GPIO also require protection against ESD, but they do not require high-frequency signaling. Three key elements are essential for the selection of ESD protection—package variant, one or multichannel, and uni- or bi-directional.