ESD-safe microscopes

Static electricity. If you’ve ever been zapped by a car door or got a tiny shock after walking on carpet, you’re probably familiar with static electricity.

But while it’s only a minor annoyance to most people, that same static shock can be deadly to sensitive electronic equipment.

If you’re going to be inspecting or soldering electronics under a microscope, you’ll need an electrostatic discharge (ESD) safe microscope to keep the circuits protected while you work.

What is electrostatic discharge?

In simple terms, ESD is just uneven electrostatic charges being equalised.

When two differently charged objects or surfaces come into close proximity, the difference in charge is equalised in a sudden electric current that flows between the two objects.

Depending on the size of the charge difference, the electrical transfer can range from a tiny spark to a lightning strike.

But even the smallest ESD can cause severe damage to electronics, so it’s important to know how to avoid electrostatic build-up.

What causes electrostatic build-up?

An electrostatic charge can build up when 2 objects or surfaces come into contact – electrons can move from one to the other, leaving one with a negative charge and the other with a positive charge.

The most mundane, everyday actions can build up a charge – walking across carpet, moving while wearing clothes, putting something into a plastic bag – anything that rubs two surfaces together can transfer electrons and electrically ‘charge’ an object.

Over time, those small charges can build up into thousands of volts.

The little sparks you can see between your fingers and a metal surface can be over 3,000 volts, while it can take as little as 100 volts to damage sensitive electronics.

Without preventive measures, you might never even notice the discharge that destroys your circuitry.

So, what can you do to prevent ESD issues?

How to prevent ESDs

Fortunately, there is a range of options to help manage electrostatic build-up.

While each individual anti-ESD measure is good, it’s best to use a combination of measures to minimise the chances of a costly electrostatic incident.

General protection

The most common approach is to ground yourself, your workstation and your equipment.

Devices like antistatic wristbands and grounding clamps create an efficient electrical pathway between your equipment or body and the ground – any charge that builds up is immediately discharged into the ground.

You can also minimise the build-up of static by using ESD-safe clothing, shoes and containers.

ESD-safe microscope

It’s also an excellent idea to ensure that your equipment itself is ESD safe.

For example, Dino-Lite has a range of ESD-safe microscopes to ensure that any risks are minimal while you work.

The AM73915MZTL and the AM7915MZTL are powerful and versatile handheld digital microscopes designed to work in ESD-sensitive workspaces.

Dino-Lite AM73915MZTL ESD Safe Digital Microscope

With long working distances, 5-megapixel high-resolution optics, and adjustable polarizers, they’re perfect for inspecting electronics.

With long working distances, 5-megapixel high-resolution optics, and adjustable polarizers, they’re perfect for inspecting electronics.

ESD-safe benchtop stand

For complete protection, be sure to have an ESD-safe work area.

For example, the Dino-Lite RK-10 benchtop stand dissipates any static charge that builds up during an inspection, preventing any localised ESDs.

With an ESD safe microscope and workplace, you can prevent lightning from striking twice.

Further reading Best Microscope for SMD Soldering and Electronics Repair

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