Tag Archives: RFID

Our very own Cherish has been scheming in the lab lately and came up with something really cool. If you haven’t heard about it, Cherish and two other researchers at North Dakota State University have developed a patent pending, thin RFID tag for metal objects. The main press release (i think) is here. You can read more about it here, here, and here. In a nutshell, RFID tags don’t work too well on metal objects because the metal object causes interference and signal loss. Previous methods to solve this problem required bulky objects to be placed outside of the metal object which could be easily damaged during transportation. Cherish’s RFID tag is only about 3 mm thick, which meets standards for these sorts of tags. First off, let me congratulate Cherish and her team for a job well done. Coming up with a workable, commercially viable solution to a problem…

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Last week, on April Fools’ Day no less, I was informed that a book chapter I’d written last year had finally been published online.  The article is about electrostatic discharge (ESD) and how it impacts a particular class of RFID tags.  While I’ve gotten pretty comfy dealing with RFID, at least the ultra-high frequency (UHF) variety, I am actually far more interested in ESD as area of study.  The physics of ESD is fascinating, primarily because it’s so difficult to get anything resembling a quantitative model. ESD generally begins as a build-up of charge, which can happen in many ways.  One of the most common is through frictional transfer.  More simply, one object rubs against another.  The model is fairly intuitive: two materials come in contact with each other, and as they move across each other, electrons that are held too loosely by one material jump to the other material.…

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The above video gives an idea of what places like Walmart would like to do with RFID, and this type of item-level tagging is what has been driving the market.  RFID has been in use long enough that this sort of thing ought to be available, but it’s not. Why? Let’s start with RFID: it works like a barcode.  You have a scanner that reads the barcode using lasers.  In order to read the barcode, you need a line of sight: the scanner has be able to “see” the light hitting the barcode. RFID is similar, except it’s using a frequency of electromagnetic wave different than the range of visible light.  This frequency doesn’t require “line of sight” because objects that are opaque in the visible frequencies will be transparent at the operational frequencies that RFID systems use.  This is because RFID tags use antennas to capture and modulate electromagnetic…

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