ESD Engine Sculpture (for sale)

Electrostatic charge is what we experience when we take off a sweater or step out of the car at low air humidity. It concerns electrical charge at a high voltage that can lead to a spark when discharged. If the discharge goes through your finger for example, you feel a little shock. Discharge can also occur through electronic equipment or a silicon chip. A silicon chip needs to be designed and tested for certain electrostatic discharge levels. The ESD Engine sculpture generates electrostatic charge out of two water streams. It might sound contra-intuitive and is a very interesting physical phenomena. The sculpture is made to be an "eye-catcher" for visitors at an exhibition. Therefore, a design constraint was that it is easily to assemble and disassemble.

Technical details

The principle is based on a Kelvin water dropper. Water flows along two metal conductors into water containers that are electrically cross coupled connected. In this positive feedback system charge is build up. When the voltage reaches the breakdown voltage in the air gap, a spark occurs. The voltage can easily exceed a 1000V. It is not dangerous since the discharge current is extremely low. Which side is positive charged and which side negative, is randomly determined by noise. A lift mechanism is designed to refill the top plexiglass boxes, this avoids electrical leakage between the left and right side of the ESD Engine. A spark occurs every 5 to 10 seconds and it takes about 7 minutes before a refill is required. Refills can be done manually by means of the front button or automatically where the timing can be set by switches at the back. The sculpture depth is 40cm, width 62cm and height 95cm. When disassembled the longest part is 68 cm.

Watch the video below, the spark occurs thanks to the water streams. External power is only needed to move the lifts.

You can also find this video on YouTube.

Great assignment

The sculpture is made for Maser Engineering located in Enschede, the Netherlands. Maser Engineering has more than 25 years experience in reliability test & failure analysis. ESD testing is one of the reliability tests. Therefore, the sculptures connects well to their core business. The background picture is from a Maser Engineering electron microscope. The micromanipulators are used to probe a chip for analysis. This ESD Engine sculpture is unique. Designing and creating this sculpture was a learningful journey. Thanks for the assignment. Are you interested, let us know.

Sculpture, making of

WHAT!! Water in the house. First functional test with tin conductors and buckets. Middle part is ready; probes, holder-bars and wires.
The conductor has the shape of a silicon wafer. Spark between needles hold by micromanipulators. Connection between water boxes by red/yellow wire.
Four wires for step motor, two wires for micro-switch. Micro-switch to sense the posisiton of the lift wagon. The lift in cristal clear transparent laser cut plexiglass.
Inside wooden box, the electronics, peak current ~6A. Fans to cool the step motor drives and "break system". The ESD Engine is controlled by an Arduino Mega.
Shielding to block high dV/dt towards the electronics. Isolation! Leakage current results in mallfunctioning. Mode-select and connectors for easy (dis)assembly.
Distance of wafers can be adjusted for optimal spark. Top boxes with 2mm hole, mounted using wing bolts. Splash screens to keep water in, attracted by wafers.
Notice, three different kind of top boxes are tested. Distance between water stream and conductor ~1cm. Incomplete supplier list, a lot of stuff goes in there.
The RVS "silicon wafer" with chips engraved. Magnifying glass, great enhancement to see the spark. Maser Engineering in Enschede, the Netherlands.

It is definetly unique, but will it be an "eye-catcher"? Final inspection before shipping.

If you have any comments or want more information about the sculpture, let me know. It is always nice to know whether you enjoined it, so please send me an email anyway. Looking forward to your response.