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PASSIVE RFID AND PACKAGING TECHNOLOGY FOR WIRELESS SENSOR APPLICATIONS
Keywords: RFID, Sensors, Wireless
Mobile health monitoring, wearable electronics, and smartphone “apps” are providing substantial new product opportunities in consumer and biomedical electronics. The ability to miniaturize devices to make them unobtrusive, operate at low power consumption to maximize time between recharging or replacing batteries, and communicate wirelessly are all critical attributes of such systems. Bluetooth is widely accepted as a communication data link of choice for many such applications. The fact that most smartphones and many PCs are Bluetooth enabled makes this a logical choice. North Dakota State University’s Center for Nanoscale Science and Engineering has sought to investigate an alternative wireless technology that may be suitable for some applications. Passive Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology has been widely adopted by industry and government for supply chain management applications. The basic element of this technology is an inexpensive, disposable RFID tag that stores a small amount of information, typically only a unique identification number. The tag consists of a single component, a very small integrated circuit (IC), along with an antenna. There is no power source onboard the tag. The IC is instead powered by the RF signal transmitted from a reader system which is typically a stationary portal type system, a handheld device, or an RFID enabled smartphone. Several companies have introduced RFID integrated circuits that now have capability to interface with other electronic components such as sensors. These ICs are still powered remotely by the reader system, thus allowing the tag to operate without battery power for the transmission of data between tag and reader. Although the sensor and data logging functions may still require power, the overall power budget is improved in comparison to a device that uses an active transceiver for communication. NDSU has developed prototype sensor systems with this approach. We will review the design of such systems, the results from our prototype testing, and health monitoring concepts for application of the technology. In addition we will describe a packaging and assembly technology that has been developed at NDSU which could enable the production of low cost disposable RFID sensor tags.
Aaron Reinholz, Associate Director for Electronics Technology
North Dakota State University
Fargo, ND
USA


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