Robert Ashton holds a B.S. in Physics from University of Rhode Island, 1971 and a Ph.D. in Physics from University of Rhode Island, 1977.
After graduate work, Robert had two post doctoral positions; the first at Rutgers University and the second at Ohio State University. The post doctoral positions allowed him to continue his thesis work on the study of the flow properties of superfluid helium in turbulent counter flow and rotation.
Robert stated that during this time the only contact he had with ESD was a bad one. “I could not get an amplifier design to work because I didn’t know that the discrete MOS devices that were the heart of the amplifier needed special ESD handling.”
After his postdoctoral period Robert joined AT&T Bell Labs, which opened the path that introduced him to ESD. While at AT&T and its spin-offs, Lucent Technology and Agere Systems, Robert was in the CMOS integrated circuit technology development organization. Over time he became one of the prime contacts between technology development and circuit designers as an interface with the ESD design engineers. Reading EOS/ESD Symposium papers Robert became convinced that ESD designers needed more fundamental information about the company’s circuit element’s properties in the time and current domain of ESD events. This suggested TLP measurements. In the early and mid 1990s commercial TLP systems were not yet available, so he set out to build his own TLP system. Robert says “Based on a phone call with Tim Maloney, whom I had met at an EOS/ESD Symposium, and some advice on relay selection from Thermo (now Thermo Fischer Scientific) engineers at their vendor booth at the Symposium, I was able to construct a respectable TLP system.” The system was able to perform fully automated measurements, providing TLP measurements on dozens of test structures in an evening. “It is a great satisfaction that the sample waveforms in the ANSI/ESD STM5.5.1-2008 are from my home built system, rather than the commercial systems which were available by the time the first draft of the document was written.”
After Agere Systems closed its technology development effort, Robert joined White Mountain Labs, a provider of ESD and Latch-Up testing, as Director of Technology. In this position, knowledge and involvement in the test standards became critical and ESDA involvement was a distinct benefit. In early 2007 he joined ON Semiconductor in their protection and control business unit, which makes protection products for ESD and overstress to protect systems from damage. In this position Robert has become more interested in system level ESD and the intersection of system level ESD and device level ESD, as evidenced in the Human Metal Model, HMM, standards work.
Robert has been attending the EOS/ESD Symposium almost annually from the early 1990s. His first volunteer activity was participation in the device standards TLP effort. Since attending he decided to attend all of the device standards meetings including HBM, CDM, MM and TLU. “I felt that if my company was sending me, I should at least try to learn something from the other meetings, even if that was not my original goal.” While attending the meetings, Robert found that not only did he learn a lot, but he also had useful input. Over time Robert became a member of the full set of device testing standards working groups. “I believe that the best accomplishment has been the writing of the new HMM standard practice for which I wrote the first draft” said Robert. “I am also proud to be involved in bringing the ESDA device standards and JEDEC ESD working groups together.”
In addition to attending the EOS/ESD Symposium Robert has authored several papers and co-authored many others. Robert has been on the Technical Program Committee for several Symposia as well as on the technical and management teams for the International ESD Workshop in 2007 and 2009.
ON Semiconductor has been providing a venue for Southwest ESDA association meetings where Robert has given presentations on TLP. Robert also gives a tutorial on TLP testing at the Symposium and been involved with the development of the certification program for Device Design.
“What you learn participating in a standards organization goes well beyond what you can learn from reading papers and attending conferences. You learn what really happens and what is truly important. You also know who to ask when you have a problem and you have developed the personal contacts that open lines of communication. My current job and previous job were obtained through ESDA contacts. Networking is important and ESDA is the best networking organization that I know of for those in the ESD and EOS field.” Robert said about his experiences with the ESD Association.
Robert and his wife Susan have been married for 31 years. Susan is an artist and she is currently working toward certification as a botanical artist. (Check out her web site at www.sashtonart.com.) Robert enjoys hiking, photography and cooking. He and Susan sing in the choir of Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in downtown Phoenix.