Unlocking the Secrets: A Step-by-Step Guide to How Does RFID Chips Work

How Does RFID Chips Work

RFID technology aids people’s lives in numerous ways. It contributes to multiple fields, such as medicine, business, etc. Years ago, one could never have imagined the technology we indulge in today.

 

In a single tap, swipe, and scan, we reach our destinations, pay debts, enter secured premises, and track items. But have you ever thought of what allows RFID tags, cards, or keyfobs to make these processes possible? It all leads to a teeny tiny object, the RFID chip.

 

Imagine how amazing it is for a single chip to hold great power. Do you want to know how an RFID chip works? Then, we’ll give you the step-by-step guide you need!

Basics of RFID

RFID stands for Radio Frequency Identification. This technology is often used for access control, tracking of goods, personnel identification, and more. It’s funny how we use this technology daily but are unaware we are doing so.

 

RFID technology is simpler than it seems. The RFID system works when electromagnetic energy is exchanged between an RFID tag and an RFID reader. The reader identifies the tag by reading its stored data.

 

Anatomy of an RFID Tag

Anatomy of an RFID Tag

1. RFID Chip (IC)

 

An RFID chip can be called a microchip or electronic circuit. It is a microprocessor that has over 50 transistors. Semiconductor companies are responsible for developing and manufacturing this component of the RFID tag.

 

The chip has a logic unit for decision-making and storing RFID data. In order to operate, it needs power. An active RFID tag can be obtained from an independent power source, a battery. Meanwhile, passive RFID tags get this from the radio energy transmitted by the reader.

 

To be able to store data, the RFID chip must have memory. The memory is subdivided into various blocks known as banks.

 

The most used RFID memory is the EEPROM, which means ” electrically erasable, programmable, read-only memory.” A good thing about this memory type is it doesn’t rely on continuous power. It can store data for years even if the tag is not connected to a power source.

 

The memory can store different data types. The RFID chip can save passwords, object identifiers, tag IDs, and many more depending on the purpose and use.

 

The creation of RFID chips is a very crucial process. It must be manufactured in a clean facility with a huge semiconductor wafer that produces over 40,000 chips. They are then tested one by one to make sure they are functional.

 

As years pass, innovators try to make these chips as small as possible. Some aim to make it almost as small as a grain of sand. This is because the smaller it becomes, the cheaper the cost and the less power needed.

2. Antenna

Old televisions used antennas to catch signals from TV shows. The modern RFID tags use the same logic. Among the components of an RFID tag, the antenna is considered the biggest.

 

It is responsible for receiving signals from readers and transmitting or reflecting them. Active RFID tags share; meanwhile, passive and semi-passive tags reflect.

 

3. Substrate

Like glue, the substrate holds the RFID chip and antenna in place. The process starts with the antenna being printed on the surface of the substrate, where the RFID chip is later attached. Mostly, the substrate is a thin plastic that can withstand harsh environmental conditions.

 

Three Versions of RFID Chips

Three Versions of RFID Chips

1. Active RFID Chip

The active RFID chip‘s most common distinction is its power source. Usually, it makes use of a battery. This quality allows it to be read for longer distances than passive ones.

 

However, the disadvantage of this chip is its limited period. Once the battery runs out, it needs to be replaced. The timespan usually lasts for about 3-4 years.

 

2. Semi-Passive RFID Chip

The RFID chip that shares both active and passive qualities is the semi-passive RFID chip. This type of chip also has a power source. Unlike the active chip, its battery only provides energy to the chip at certain time intervals. This technology is best used for food deliveries and tracking since it’s best at recording temperature changes.

 

3. Passive RFID Chip

Passive RFID chips do not have a power source. In order to be read, it should be placed within the vicinity of the radio wave emitted by the RFID reader. Unlike the active one, it only has a limited range.

 

RFID Chip Frequencies

RFID Chip Frequencies

Communication between the components of an RFID tag is possible with the help of frequency. It allows a connection between the antenna and the chip. However, not all RFID chips share similar functions. The chips differ based on their reading distance and read/write property.

The frequency of the chip is directly proportional to the reading distance. Once the frequency goes higher, the reading distance becomes longer.

The three RFID chip frequencies are: Low frequency, High frequency, and Ultra high frequency.

Type of Frequency Frequency of Function Range (In meter) Read/Write
Low Frequency 120-150 kHz 0.50 meters Read Only
High Frequency 13.56 MHz 1 meter Read/Write
Ultra High Frequency 433 MHz, 860-920 MHz Up to 100 meters Read/Write

Troubleshooting Tips

Problems in technology are unavoidable. You may encounter problems you have never faced before. It is the same with RFID chips.

 

There will be times when you need help to optimize their full potential. Knowing troubleshooting measures is necessary if you want your RFID chip to perform best. We have prepared a go-to list of troubleshooting tips.

 

1. Minimize Metal Interference

Metals are known to be conductors. Because of their conductive properties, they greatly impact the RFID radio waves. They can reflect off the signals, confusing the path of the RFID readers.

 

To avoid such problems, make sure there are no metal things around. It will avoid unnecessary interference.

2. Temperature and Humidity Control

Extreme temperatures and high humidity levels can impact the RFID radio waves. Always check the temperature and humidity of the surroundings. By doing so, you’ll be able to ensure the operating environment is suitable.

3. Regular Maintenance Checks

Regular maintenance checks are a must. This process lets you find out if there are damages, cracks, or wear. Damaged protective cases of RFID tags can expose the chips and antenna to environmental factors.

 

Conclusion

 

A single RFID chip indeed holds the world. Despite its small size, it is used by different industries to make processes efficient. We hope we’ve introduced the secrets of RFID technology and its components well.

 

If you face difficulties with your RFID chip, always consider returning to this guide. Always be ready to embrace possibilities!

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