How Can ESD Damage Computer Components?



  • Electro Static Discharge (ESD) is the unwanted surge of electricity that comes when two items of different electrical potential come in contact with each other or the same electrostatic field. When you are shocked by "static electricity," that is ESD. ESD is very dangerous to computer components. While it takes around 300 volts of electricity to be discharged for a person to feel it, a surge as small as 30 volts is enough to damage sensitive components. The reason, is Ohm's Law.

Ohm's Law

  • Ohm's Law defines and describes the interaction of three major components of electricity: voltage, amperage, and resistance. Electricity, works very much like water in a hose. Voltage is similar to the pressure behind the water in the hose, amperage is similar to the amount of water flowing out of the hose, and resistance is the size (width) of the hose. The Ohm's Law equation is U=IR where U is voltage, I is amperage, and R is resistance.

ESD Damage

  • Consider water flowing through a standard garden hose. Connected to the outdoor spigot, the hose can handle the pressure created. But if that same hose suddenly received the same pressure as is released by a fire hydrant, the amount of water flowing would be too much for the size of the hose, and the hose would be shredded. Electricity in computer components is carried on microscopic lines of copper. Like the hose, if those lines suddenly receive a surge of voltage (which is just like pressure), those fine lines could break, causing damage to the component.

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