Electronic Design

Chips In The Board

At December’s Printed Electronics USA?conference in Phoeniz, Ariz., Nokia new technology manager David Lu outlined his company’s innovative embedded implementation of radio-frequency identification (RFID), putting an RFID chip inside a pc board and creating a one-chip solution for multiple applications.

By including a near-field communication (NFC) chip, Nokia wanted to further exploit the chip’s unique silicon ID to create a permanent ID solution in the phone. Nokia worked with NFC manufacturers to embed their chips inside its bare board, preprogrammed by the chipmaker with its Electronic Product Code (EPC) information and unique ID.

Lu says the antennae design was a challenge. Using a multilayer antennae structure, the UHF frequency allowed for a compact, single-loop antenna to be built on the external layers of the phone’s pc board. The antenna is incorporated on the external layers while the chip die is put into the inner layers of the board. A laser is used to drill micro vias to connect the layers of the RFID chip to the antenna.

Nokia envisions RFID working in multiple applications throughout the life of the phone. RFID can be utilized during board manufacturing for real-time process control and to track repair and rework. The tag also can be used to trigger automatic software flashing (where previously a 2D bar code had to be scanned). Moreover, the same tag enables supply-chain tracking (eliminating the need for a tag on the carton or box), warranty tracking, and end-of-life recycling (to check records to see if the phone is lead-free).

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