Temperature-Sensitive, Unclonable, Chipless RFID Tags for Better Tracking and Tracing

Technology #16363

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Researchers
Mark M. Tehranipoor
Domenic J. Forte
Kun Yang
Haoting Shen
Managed By
Richard Croley
Assistant Director 352-392-8929
Patent Protection
US Patent Pending

Reduces Manufacturing Time and Costs and Shortens Authentication Processing

This UCR RFID tag, or unclonable, chipless, radio-frequency identification tag, is an environmentally-sensitive tag that replaces barcodes and quick response (QR) code. RFID tags use electromagnetic energy to send data to readers, allowing users to track and trace tagged items. Because RFID offers more security and utility than barcodes or QR codes, businesses and other institutions have begun to adopt it for tracking items. Recently, RFID tags without microchips have attracted a great deal of attention as an alternative to the traditional tags because they are much cheaper and less vulnerable to denial-of-service attacks than RFID tags with traditional chips. However, available chipless tag designs generate very simple IDs that are too easy to clone and limit utility. They also require post-processing, which can increase manufacturing time and cost.

Researchers at the University of Florida have developed an unclonable, environmentally-sensitive, low-cost, chipless tag that can be attached to packages, directly integrated onto printed circuit boards of electronic products, or be printed on products or packaging with conductive ink.

Application

Temperature-sensitive RFID tags that can trace and track items without risk of cloning by third parties

Advantages

  • IDs generated by the tags depend on random process variations during fabrication, making each tag unique and unclonable
  • The tags do not require post-processing to encode data, significantly reducing manufacturing time and cost
  • Uses lookup method instead of exhaustive search, dramatically speeding up the authentication process of the tags
  • The tags can track the temperatures of commodities in the supply chain in an irreversible way, allowing businesses to monitor temperature-sensitive items

Technology

This chipless tag generates a unique ID based on both manufacturing variation and temperature variation, making it unclonable, as well as sensitive to temperature. The tag consists of two parts: a set of concentric ring slot resonators, whose resonance frequencies are sensitive to manufacturing variations, and a standalone circular ring slot resonator attached to a substrate that melts at high temperatures. The frequency signature of the first part of each tag serves as the identifier for that unique tag. The randomness of process variation means each frequency signature is unique and therefore unclonable. The frequency signature of the second part of the tag allows temperature tracking via the temperature-sensitive substrate used. The UCR tags can track and trace commodities (such as electronic products, foods, pharmaceuticals, etc.), including commodities susceptible to high temperatures, and enhance passports and driver licenses to help verify identities of people. Because the tags enable even non-electronic products to connect to a network, the UCR tags have the potential to expand the scope of the Internet of Things (IoT).