Effect of Static Electricity on Electronics

Introduction: Effect of Static Electricity on Electronics

About: Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.

Various hobbyists and electronic engineers declare that static electricity is VERY bad for electronics and electronic components. The majority of the public falls into conformity, obeying the rules set up by various people.

Why don't we put the theory to the test?

Obviously, for this experiment, a woolen jacket and a pie plate shall not suffice, so I present to you....


Let us not digress.

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Step 1: Zap Science

In simple words, static electricity is the imbalance of charges.

The main component affected by these devious charges are semiconductors. This is because they incorporate various delicate components, and when a negative charge is discharged onto it by virtue of static, it causes failures, as there is no conductor that can dissipate, hence causing damage.

Semiconductors, include diodes, microchips, transistors, etc.

On the other hand, some of the more not-so sensitive electronics like washing machines (Which have a bulk of other components which are not easily affected) do not succumb easily.

Static electricity, causes damage to sensitive electronic components, so if one brings it near electronics, there will be failure.

Let us put that to the test.

Step 2: The Equipment

Okay, I have decided to keep the electronics simple.

Sometime ago, I had fallen across this handy gadget, and it packs quite a punch.

Find it here: Negative Ion Generator. It prefers a 12 Volt input, but I used a mere 9 volts. It gives an output of 20 kV for a 12 Volt battery, and an output of 15 kV for a 9 Volt.

I created a switch and a battery harness, and the Generator was good to go.

I also needed something which I could destroy, and would have sensitive components.

Since I had an old digital watch lying around, I decided to proceed with it. The best part of this is, that I could use my old electronic detritus for something.

Step 3: Testing....

The basic guidelines I followed are to stay away from sensitive electronic equipment, as it can get damaged.

It would also be best if you release static electricity on the point closest to the innards.

After I connected a 9 Volt battery to the adapter I built for the generator, I was all set to go.

First I connected the negative wire to the part of the watch where electronics are in proximity.

The negative wire is the one that attracts electrons, and vice versa.

Disappointingly, nothing relevant conspired, as there were few electrons to be propagated, but at certain times the time changed.

On the other hand, the positive wire sent out electrons, which caused pertinent damage, as the electrons disturb the components inside, making them partially useless.

As exciting as this was, when I connected BOTH the negative and the positive wire, the results were magnified and more lively.

I presume this occurs due to the fact that whence the electrons are disposed by the positive wire, they are pulled back in by the negative wire, and so the cycle continues. Also, in this cycle, more electrons are in motion, hence sparks also appear.

The results are given in more detail in the next step.

I decided that this is something to be presented in the video-graphic form, and so it is.

Step 4: Les Recordings

Wait, what actually happened? Did the watch blow up? Did the battery run out? Negative.

The results were varied, and quite esoteric.

1.) The watch kept resetting to one o'clock.

2.) The luminous intensity of the screen became nigh non-existent.

3.) The lights went on.

4.) An assorted set of beeps were heard.

5.) The Date, Day also changed.

6.) Half the screen flickers out at times.

7.) Other miscellaneous changes such as mode changes, and alarm setting changes.

The Video shows only a few of these, as controlling it is beyond my comprehension. Also I would bet my money on the fact that the lights showed up, but were not visible in this lighting.

As I said before, the results were accelerated and magnified when BOTH the positive and negative wire were connected. Gradually, the apparatus looses resistance, and is affected more heavily, I noted, and it is also dependant on the humidity.

So, yes, I have proved that static electricity is bad for electronics. (Most of you probably never doubted it anyway)

Anybody fancy sabotage

Step 5: The End

Next, I decided to test whether a washing machine would be affected by static, and in simple words, the answer in NO.

To conclude, semiconductors, diodes, etc. are affected by static as they are Electro-sensitive devices in the make, and hence during any electronic project, one must ensure a lack of static. These problems are caused due to the travel of electrons, that affect the tiny conductive, and electromagnetic components.

Pity it took me a watch to learn that.

Nonetheless, vote if you liked my Instructable.

Also, take a look at my other instructable - Plotly with Python.

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    10 Discussions


    Question 1 year ago

    I have just stripped a couple of boards (Display screen section) off an induction hob we were dumping and thinking I was doing the ''safe'' thing, I wrapped each of the parts I seperated in bubble wrap. Subsequently, I was then told by a colleague that this may cause static damage. I was a bit baffled by this to be honest. Would this be the case, that it may indeed have been damaged by doing this?


    3 years ago

    In the industry, it is known as Electrostatic Discharge (ESD), which is now a problem more than ever before, although the recently adopted policies and procedures have helped to reduce the possibility of ESD damage to the product. In any case, its impact on the electronics industry is greater than the other industry.

    We need to install anti static equipment to ensure the quality of quality of products.

    More: http://www.kesd.com/products.html

    Count Volta
    Count Volta

    Reply 1 year ago

    Which makes it the weapon of choice for disrupting technology.


    6 years ago

    I believe there is still a misunderstanding to be rectified here. positive voltage is technically nothing more than a lack of electrons relative to another point (i.e. negative terminal). devices that produce positve voltages do so by removing electrons and since a group of electrons in many ways behaves as a fluid it seeks to reestablish a state of equilibrium. that considered, when a positive voltage finds a path to a negative and or grounded source, electrons flow from the negative to the positive and never the opposite. what you are describing is what is sometimes reffered to a classical current and is in some troubleshooting cases useful to visualize but nonetheless not how electrons actually flow.

    Pure Carbon
    Pure Carbon

    6 years ago on Introduction

    where did you get your negative ion generator from? I've been searching for one for, forever and haven't found one. I'm guessing the one you have runs on DC because you didn't have an AC to DC converter. Very nice instructable.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Most electronics are not harmed by the typical static charge that they would receive from a person touching them....unless the circuit contains MOSFETs. Most non-MOSFET components will be perfectly fine. MOSFETs have a thin piece of glass that insulates the gate from the source and drain. A static shock can crack or break that insulator fairly easy.

    Also, electrons do not flow from the positive terminal and the negative terminal does not attract them unless your negative terminal has a more positive charge on it than the positive terminal. Electrons are negatively charged so they will always flow towards the greater positive potential.


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    I know, I just CALL it the negative terminal, as the wire is black in colour. I also know that is not a definite indicator of negative/positive terminal.

    'Negative Terminal' is just a given name, and if I called it the positive terminal, someone naive might say " Hey, black is negative! Thou art wrong!!", note the lines

    "First I connected the negative wire to the part of the watch where electronics are in proximity.

    The negative wire is the one that attracts electrons, and vice versa.

    Disappointingly, nothing relevant conspired, as there were few electrons to be propagated, but at certain times the time changed."

    Also, I initially added MOSFET's but, I later changed my mind. I was too lazy to type them out, so I just went with sensitive components.

    FYI: Not ONLY MOSFETS are affected.


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    I apologize, I did not see the initial sentence of a person touching. You are right about the MOSFET's, but this charge is MUCH more higher, maybe enough to kill a toad.