Radio frequency identification (RFID) tags use radio waves to identify, track, sort, and detect persons and items. In these devices, communication takes place between a reader (interrogator) and a transponder (a chip connected to an antenna) often called a tag.
The potential of item-level tracking is tremendous and IdTechEx have stated that RFID will be the highest volume electronic product of all time reaching 35 billion printed devices by 2015 not only replacing barcodes but also appearing where there are no barcodes today, becoming the most ubiquitous LAN connectible on the market.
The potential to track the movement and purchase of individual items offers substantial benefits to marketers in knowing what's being purchased and when, operations researchers in tracking shipments, inventory, and replenishment times, and consumers with no more waiting in lines, just simply walk out with your cart and the reader checks out all RFID tagged items automatically. The 4 core sectors for printed RFID uptake may be summarised as;
Item level identification
Electronic brand protection
Near Field Communications
Indeed the emergence of Near Field Communications (NFC) is also anticipated to be a driving factor in the adoption of printed RFID-based tags that interact with NFC enabled mobile phones (550 million NFC enabled phones by 2012) where each phone can act as a NFC (RFID) reader to scan promotional cards, posters etc all embedded with printed logic and TFT drive circuitry.
However the current cost of RFID tags using conventional “chip” based technologies is too expensive for individual item-level tracking, which most experts agree will require the cost to be reduced to the order of cents per tag. With the inherent high manufacturing throughput of print based RFID tags on inexpensive plastic substrate, printed electronics has the capacity to achieve the necessary price points to make their ubiquitous uptake viable.
Smartkem's organic semiconductors offer unique advantages to this sector, not only in processability for print based manufacture but our OSC materials high charge carrier mobility will allow TFT structures to be realised with the necessary speed of operation to achieve the required read rate, read range and frequency of operation for future printed RFID tag realisation.