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Segmented Magnetic Antennas for Near-field

A simple loop antenna of less-than-resonant size is awkward to match and a
resonant antenna contains opposing current flows and makes a poor
magnetic antenna. Segmented antennas have been constructed that can
operate at resonant diameters while still p...
Daniel M. Dobkin, Steven M. eigand and Nat!an I"e
#$ne %&, '(()
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ANS1S 2lobal )vents
*onventional radiativel" co$+led, $ltra-!ig! fre,$enc" radio-fre,$enc" identification -UHF
RFID. tags !ave certain limitations/ t!e" are +!"sicall" large and do not o+erate 0ell in or
close to a,$eo$s fl$ids. Recentl", t!e $se of tags config$red to $se ind$ctive instead of, or
as a s$++lement to, radiative co$+ling !as been advanced as an alternative a++lication
model for UHF RFID. Ind$ctivel" co$+led tags re,$ire reader antennas t!at +rovide
significant magnetic fields.
1!e m$t$al ind$ctance bet0een t0o loo+ antennas is strongl" infl$enced b" t!e antenna
diameter. A small loo+ +rod$ces a strong magnetic field along its a2is, b$t t!e field falls
ra+idl" 0!en t!e sensing coil is moved more t!an a++ro2imatel" one diameter above t!e
larger loo+. A large loo+ +rod$ces a more modest +eak field, b$t t!e e2tent of t!e field is
larger, scaling 0it! its diameter. 1!erefore, t!ere is an o+timal si3e for best read range for
an" given +eak loo+ c$rrent and co$+ling re,$irement.% 10o obstacles are enco$ntered
0!en one attem+ts to design sim+le loo+ antennas for UHF -a++ro2imatel" 4(( MH3. near-
field readers. Antennas of intermediate diameter -bet0een ' and 5 cm. are a0k0ard to
matc! to a 5( 6 in+$t, d$e bot! to lo0 radiation resistance and !ig! in+$t im+edance/ loo+
antennas !ave a +arallel resonance in t!is si3e range. As t!e antenna diameter
a++roac!es t!e series resonant si3e -a++ro2imatel" 789. t!e c$rrent distrib$tion s!ifts to
+rod$ce a c!ange in sign of t!e c$rrent flo0, and t!e antennas +rod$ce relativel" little
magnetic field on a2is.
Segmented Loop Antennas
In order to address t!e +roblems cited above, a segmented loo+ antenna !as been
constr$cted. ;ac! segment is com+osed of a metal line forming a +ol"gonal face and a
series ca+acitor to t!e ne2t segment.
;ac! segment forms a resonant line, avoiding t!e acc$m$lation of ind$ctive reactance t!at
ot!er0ise im+edes matc!ing.
<eca$se at resonance t!e voltage across t!e segment is real, +!ase does not acc$m$late
aro$nd t!e loo+, and t!e c$rrent aro$nd t!e loo+ remains a++ro2imatel" in +!ase and of
t!e same sign, t!$s +rod$cing a s$bstantial magnetic field along t!e a2is.
;2am+le antennas are s!o0n in Figures 1 and 2.
Model and Measurement Results
1o sim$late t!e loo+ resonance, a '.5D electromagnetic solver soft0are 0as $sed and an
N-+ort S-+arameter block 0as e2tracted. For e2am+le, for t!e %( cm loo+, a :'-+ort S-
+arameter file 0as e2tracted. 1!is file 0as $sed in a linear sim$lator to determine t!e
+ro+er ca+acitances bet0een segments, cascade t!e in+$t of t!e loo+ 0it! t!e S-
+arameter res$lts of a bal$n and add matc!ing com+onents. Since t!e radiation resistance
is ver" small com+ared to t!e 5( 6 coa2ial feed line, t!e loo+ matc! is ver" sensitive to t!e
reactance val$es. 1o make t!e matc!ing more rob$st and attain better man$fact$rabilit", a
resistor 0as mo$nted on t!e o++osite side of t!e antenna feed to decrease t!e = of t!e
loo+ s$fficientl". *ommonl", a loo+ antenna 0it! a lengt! m$c! smaller t!an its e2citing
0avelengt! is referred to as a small loo+. Small loo+s !ave constant c$rrent +!ase along
t!e loo+ 0ire and !ave t!e ca+abilit" of generating a strong near-field magnetic field. >n
t!e ot!er !and, d$e to t!e small circ$mference, t!e magnetic field ta+ers off ver" ,$ickl"
be"ond a distance e,$ivalent to one loo+ diameter. Increasing t!e coil si3e 0ill increase t!e
read-distance of near-field tags b$t !ave t!e disadvantage t!at, at UHF fre,$encies and for
+ractical read distances, t!e loo+ is not small com+ared to t!e 0avelengt!. A %( cm
diameter coil, for e2am+le, is ro$g!l" one 0avelengt! in +erimeter and 0ill !ave c$rrent
n$lling and a +!ase-inversion along t!e circ$mference.
Figure 3 s!o0s t!e s$rface c$rrent along a %( cm coil driven at 4%5 MH3. 1!e to+ and
bottom s!o0 c$rrent n$lls and t!e left +ortion is o$t of +!ase 0it! t!e rig!t.
Segmenting and combining t!e +arasitic ind$ctance of eac! section 0it! a l$m+ed
ca+acitor 0ill ca$se t!e large loo+ to be!ave electricall" like a small one.
1!e c$rrent 0ill remain constant along t!e loo+ and +rovide a strong magnetic field -see
Figure 4.. 1!is +!"sicall" large b$t electricall" small loo+ !as ver" little radiation resistance
and t!$s can be driven 0it! significant strong c$rrents 0it!o$t violating government
radiation limitations.
Distrib$ting t!e ca+acitances also rela2es t!e voltage breakdo0n re,$irements allo0ing
stronger drive +o0er.
1!e meas$red ret$rn loss for t!e 5 cm loo+ is s!o0n in Figure 5, and for t!e %( cm loo+
in Figure 6, demonstrating t!e good band0idt! matc!ing obtained 0it! small and large
Inductive Coupling Improvement
1!e ind$ctive co$+ling 0as meas$red $sing an ? mm diameter sim+le loo+, matc!ed to 5(
6. 1!e small loo+ 0as matc!ed to a : k6 terminating resistor +laced o++osite t!e loo+ feed
$sing a %.: +F ca+acitor.
A loo+ of t!is diameter !as a radiation resistance m$c! less t!an % 6, so co$+ling bet0een
t!e small and large loo+s o$g!t to be almost +$rel" ind$ctive.
1!e loo+ incor+orated a 0ire-0o$nd bal$n to avoid common-mode co$+ling bet0een t!e
antenna $nder test and t!e s!ield of t!e coa2ial !ook$+ cable.
In eac! test t!e sense antenna 0as +laced above and +arallel to t!e +lane of t!e larger
loo+ antenna $nder test. A %( cm diameter segmented loo+ 0as com+ared to a sim+le
single-segment loo+ of t!e same si3e and s!a+e.
1!e res$lts are s!o0n in Figure 7. 1!e $se of t!e segmented loo+ res$lts in an
a++ro2imatel" '( d< increase in co$+ling to t!e small test loo+.
1!e ret$rn loss is sensitive to t!e environment, des+ite t!e fact t!at t!e antennas are
e2cited t!ro$g! a bal$n. For e2am+le, t!e antenna is det$ned if +laced directl" on a static-
dissi+ative s$rface.
1!e res$lts re+orted in t!e ne2t section are obtained 0it! t!e antenna mo$nted in a
+ol"et!"lene bo2 several centimeters a0a" from ot!er s$rfaces.
It seems likel" t!at t!e $se of a fairl" !ig! dielectric-constant base+late combined 0it!
a++ro+riate ad@$stment of t!e segment +arameters 0ill +rod$ce an antenna less affected
b" nearb" ob@ects, b$t t!is !as not "et been confirmed b" e2+eriment or anal"sis.
Read Range
UHF RFID tags t!at co$+le ind$ctivel" can be constr$cted $sing a loo+ antenna rat!er t!an
t!e conventional s!ort di+oleA a test tag 0as constr$cted b" removing t!e di+ole from a
conventional 1e2as Instr$ments *lass % Beneration ' inla", leaving onl" t!e %( C %: mm
t$ning loo+.
Using t!is t"+e of tag, t!e read range of t!e segmented antennas 0as tested em+lo"ing a
conventional # *omm$nications MDRE((( reader mod$le.
1!e 5 cm diameter segmented loo+ res$lts in a s!ar+l" defined read range of
a++ro2imatel" 5.5 cm on a2is, as s!o0n in Figure 8.
1!e read +ercentage for t!e %( cm diameter segmented loo+ falls more grad$all" 0it!
distance, b$t reads are +ossible o$t to a++ro2imatel" ?.5 to 4 cm along t!e a2is
-see Figure 9..
1!e detailed origins of t!e different be!avior of t!e small and large antennas !ave not "et
been e2amined, alt!o$g! since t!e +eak magnetic field on a2is is !ig!er and t!e fall-off
more abr$+t for a small antenna, some difference in be!avior is to be e2+ected.
1!e im+ortance of red$ced read rates is a++lication-de+endant. A single read $sing IS>
%?(((-E*-com+liant tags 0it! t!e inventor" +arameter = F ( or = F %, for instance,
re,$ires a fe0 milliseconds.
In some a++lications, it is onl" necessar" t!at a tag be read once and an am+le amo$nt of
time ma" be available, 0!ereas in ot!er $sage models, a large n$mber of tags ma" be
+resent and m$st be read reliabl".
1!e a$t!ors !ave verified t!at at least in some circ$mstances reads are ro$g!l" Doisson-
distrib$ted, so to ac!ieve 44 +ercent reliabilit" for a single read, for e2am+le, a tag s!o$ld
average E to ? +ossible reads.
1!erefore, t!e +ractical range res$lting from t!e be!avior s!o0n for t!e %( cm diameter
segmented loo+ 0ill var" de+ending on t!e e2act a++lication.
It ma" also be +ossible to o+timi3e t!e antenna +erformance to im+rove reads at t!e E to ?
cm range.
Ind$ctive loo+ antennas can be constr$cted at si3es com+arable to t!e resonant diameter
b" dividing t!e loo+ into individ$all" resonant segments.
1!e a$t!ors 0o$ld like to t!ank Gendall Gelsen of # *omm$nications for !is assistance in
constr$cting some of t!e antennas, and Ron >liver of Im+in@ for !el+f$l disc$ssions.
%. G. Finken3eller, RFID Handbuch, *arl Hanser Herlag, MInc!en, Berman", :, A$fl.,
'((' -;nglis! translation available from ile" J Sons Ktd., *!ic!ester, UG, Second
;dition, '((:..
'. *. <alanis, Antenna Theor, 1!ird ;dition, *!a+ter 5, ile" Interscience, Hoboken,
N#, '((5.
:. . St$t3man and B. 1!iele, Antenna Theor and Design, *!a+ter 5, #o!n ile" J
Sons Inc., Hoboken, N#, %4?%.