Electronic – How does aluminium foil or esd foam protect ICs from esd damage when stored


I see people storing ICs in plastic containers with aluminium foil or ESD foam on the bottom and then put their ICs on top of it to prevent ESD damage.

I dont understand this concept tbh and im confused also, how does it prevent ESD damage ?

My understanding so far:

Plastic is an insulator and insulators store/accumulate charge when rubbed against other insulators. So if the ICs inside the plastic container rattles around, it accumulates charge, this charge cant flow anywhere, then if the potential difference between the IC and the plastic box is high enough it discharges, this could cause damage.

Right so far ?

Ok now putting something conductive between the IC and the storage box solves this problem, but how. What i dont understand is how does it prevent ESD, since aluminium foil is conductive, doesnt it pass the charge to the IC when rattling around ?
Makes no sense to me..
The foil is touching the plastic bin and the IC touches the foil, so still everything is connected together or not ?(the IC is still in "direct" contact with the plastic since the foil is conductive )

For me, it seems, its the same like without foil. So how does it work.

EDIT: That foil/foam only prevents ESD damage inside the storage container but not for when i grab the IC, right ?

Best Answer

The problem solved by the conducting foam is that if there is a "discharge" from the foam to earth, then the voltage between the pins of the IC remain pretty low with respect to each other. It's a differential voltage across chip pins that causes damage.

When you grab the IC, grab the foam first so that you become equalized in potential to all the pins on the IC then, when you want to place the IC onto a PCB (or breadboard) you touch the PCB to equalize you and the chip (in your other hand) to the PCB.