British researchers developed technique for integrating NFC chips within flexible active smart tags

Active NFC tags could be applied to flexible electronics in an eco-friendly way 

NFC flexible active smart tag

British researchers developed technique for integrating NFC chips within flexible active smart tags. Source: wallpaperaccess.com

Researchers at the University of Glasgow have developed a hybrid technique to integrate solid NFC chips with printed circuits on flexible materials such as fabric and paper, NFCW reports. The new technology could “extend the effective use of flexible electronics in applications such as smart tags, IoT wearables, robotics, ultrathin displays, healthcare and so on”, enabling the development of active tags.

The new approach overcomes the difficulties currently occurring when NFC chips and other surface-mounted technology (SMT) components with printed electronics are integrated on flexible substrates. Today, it is challenging to develop active tags. Thus, smart RFID and NFC tags or labels are “mainly passive or chipless”.

However, the proposed technique would add significant value to smart RFID tags and labels, offering a solution for several other applications of flexible electronics. Printed electronics alone cannot always achieve much-needed high performance.

Furthermore, the production of flexible tags using this technology promises to be low-cost and resource-efficient. It would reduce the amount of production waste and enable the use of biodegradable substrate materials. The researchers also found that photographic paper was a “suitable substrate for connecting the IC with low-temperature solder paste”. 

During the study, the research group trialled different antenna configurations and tested the paper-based NFC smart tags for flexibility, sensitivity and overall performance. As a result, they discovered that hybrid integration can be used to fabricate low-cost and environmentally friendly paper-based NFC tags. To some extent, the technology will also reduce the end-of-life environment impact of smart tags and electronics.

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