The electronics and semiconductor manufacturing industry faces numerous challenges which create hindrances in realizing its full potential. Shortage in raw materials for manufacturing semiconductor chips is one of the important restricting factors of this industry. Similarly, a phenomenon known as electrostatic discharge is an important challenge faced by the semiconductor manufacturing industry.
Electrostatic Discharge can be defined as a sudden flow of electric charge from a high voltage potential to low voltage potential. The electric charge or current develops as a result of the buildup of static electricity due to accumulation of electrically charged electrons over a small area. Not just in electronic circuits, electrostatic discharge is a common phenomenon and occurs in the atmosphere too, resulting in lightning strikes. However, the electrostatic discharge that takes place in semiconductors is rather subtle and causes sparking in these circuits. Nonetheless, this sparking can render the circuits useless.
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In order to counter the problem of electrostatic discharge, electrostatic discharge packaging materials have been devised. Electrostatic discharge packaging materials essentially protect the electronic circuits by restricting the flow of electric current between them. Electrostatic packaging materials come in different configurations such as electrostatic discharge (ESD) films, electrostatic discharge (ESD) stick magazines, electrostatic discharge (ESD) matric trays, etc. Of these configurations, electrostatic discharge (ESD) films are one of the most opted ESD packaging materials.
Different Categories of Electrostatic Discharge (ESD) Films Available in the Market
Apart from the electronics and semiconductor manufacturing industry, the huge demand for electrostatic discharge (ESD) films from different sectors like food processing industry, medical sector, and aerospace industry has resulted in a massive boost in the electrostatic discharge (ESD) films market in the last few years. As a result, different types of ESD films are being marketed today to suit the needs of different industries and sectors. Basically, any electrostatic discharge (ESD) packaging material belongs to either of the three categories based on its properties- conductive, dissipative, or anti-static. The working of ESD films depend on the categories they belong, even though their main function remains the same.
Conductive Electrostatic Discharge (ESD) Films
Conductive ESD films have low electrical resistance, meaning electrons, and hence the electric current, can easily pass through these films. Hence, when an electronic circuit is packaged using a conductive ESD film, instead of passing the electric current onto other circuit, the current passes through the films, thereby avoiding electronic discharge between the two circuits. Since the conduction of electric charge through these films is pretty fast, conductive ESD films can offer a discharge even to the strongest electric currents.
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Dissipative Electrostatic Discharge (ESD) Films
Dissipative ESD materials are different from conductive materials as they slow down the flow of electrons to the ground. Thus, the flow of the electric charge is in a controlled manner than that in conductive materials. A unique feature of dissipative ESD films is that they offer protection to the electronic components from the atmospheric moisture. In fact, these films soak in the moisture from the air to form a layer of water molecules over the surface of the film which, in turn, makes it difficult to generate and pass electric current.
Anti-Static Electrostatic Discharge (ESD) Films
Anti-static electrostatic discharge films mainly focus on inhibiting triboelectric charging. Triboelectric charging is a type of static electricity wherein the contact electrification occurs upon separation of two electrically charged objects. Anti-static ESD films are extensively used in the aerospace industry as a protective material to cover and protect sensitive spacecraft components and equipment.
Recent Trends in Electrostatic Discharge (ESD) Films Market
In the last few years, some major players of this industry have claimed to have invented extra-conductive ESD material which is suitable for discharging very strong electric currents. Also, a new kind of ESD film is launched recently which offers protection from corrosion and UV rays. This ESD film is said to be based on a technology called as Vapor Phase Corrosion Inhibitor Technology, which protects the semiconductors and metals from rust, oxidation, and tarnish. Moreover, the company, Cortec Corporation, which is involved in the research of this ESD film claims that the film is non-toxic and recyclable. Thus, the electrostatic discharge (ESD) market is undergoing a massive upheaval due to stunning innovations and technological advancements. This will surely help both the ESD films market as well as the electronics manufacturing market in the long run.
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