Passive UHF RFID tag antenna design using graphite-based conductive papers

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University of New Brunswick


The emergence of passive ultra-high frequency (UHF) radio-frequency identification (RFID) systems has led to the annual production of RFID tags in the billions. Two graphite-based solutions developed at the Limerick Pulp and Paper Research Centre (LPPRC) were identified as possible candidates to achieve a more environmentally conscious tag with less complex manufacturing methods compared to what is currently available on the market. These materials are almost entirely composed of carbon and can be formed onto a biodegradable paper substrate using relatively simple methods. The materials’ intrinsic properties are characterized and a simulation profile is created to aid in the design of an optimized tag antenna. Conductivities of 600 S/m and 39,000 S/m are measured for the two graphite-ink and exfoliated-graphite based papers, respectively. Anechoic chamber read range measurements are performed using a commercial RFID reader. Maximum theoretical read ranges for prototype tags built using graphite-ink and exfoliated-graphite based papers are found to be 2.26 m and 6.83 m, respectively. Comparison of graphite-based tag prototypes and a commercial tag suggests that they are suitable for applications where the benefits of manufacturability and bio-degradability outweigh the disadvantage of a large antenna footprint. Six total designs with varying read ranges, complexities, sizes, and materials are found.