Playing tag with plastic

Philips researchers have created the first plastic-electronics based RFID tag capable of transmitting multi-bit digital identification codes at 13.56MHz.


Researchers at Philips have created a RFID tag based entirely on plastic electronics. According to Philips, this will be the first plastic-electronics based tag capable of transmitting multi-bit digital identification codes at 13.56MHz — the dominant industry-standard frequency for RFID tag applications.

In contrast to conventional silicon-chip-based RFID tags, a plastic electronics RFID chip can be printed directly on to a plastic substrate along with an antenna without involving complex assembly steps. Philips claimed this could pave the way for the packaging industry to replace barcodes with a low-cost RFID tag that provides individual packages with a unique item-level identification code.

Performance results for the tags were presented at the International Solid-State Circuits Conference in San Francisco. ‘We have shown we can make a plastic logic circuit complex enough so that an RFID tag can send out a unique identification code. Tags based on plastic electronics have so far not been able to do this,’ said Philips’ Steve Klink.

Plastic-electronics RFID tags have the potential to be manufactured using extremely low-cost reel-to-reel and in-line processing. Philips is involved in a project to investigate this.