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8, 2011


Design of UHF RFID Passive Tag Antenna Pasted on a Large Metal Structure
Shih-Chung Tuan1 , Hsi-Tseng Chou2 , Kuo-Lun Hung2 , and Jen-Chung Chu2

Dept. of Communication Eng., Oriental Institute of Technology, Pan-Chiao, Taiwan 2 Dept. of Communication Eng., Yuan Ze University, Chung-Li 320, Taiwan

Abstract In this paper we present a new design of patch-type antenna using a loop circuit
located inside the antenna structure to excite the antenna, which has potential to resolve the problem arising from the situation when the antenna is pasted on a large metal ground. The problem of large metal structures to the RFID tag antenna arises because most of the RFID uses electrical dipole-type antennas. In this case, the presence of large metal structure will short the antenna and reduce the radiation eld strength. The proposed antenna structure is a magnetic type. The proposed design concept intends to optimize the eld distribution within the substrate between the patch and ground, and therefore may reduce signicantly the antenna size. Experimental study showed that the antenna may be used to enhance the reading range to be more than 3 meters.


RFID is a kind of automatic identication system using electromagnetic (EM) wave as means for electronic information transmission, and using a reected modulation as a main communication method to achieve the objective of speedy and accurate data acquisition. Therefore, the usability and universality of RFID system at UHF band have been increased in many dierent application elds in all countries such as automatic automobile identication management, highway tolling, and monitoring systems. Other applications include the tracking and management of goods in the warehouse. The operational principles of RFID are illustrated in Figure 1. In this study we introduce research, analysis and improvement methods to improve the malfunction of RFID tag antennas caused by the situation when it is pasted on the surface of a large mental structure with a less than 1 mm distance to the metal surface. Consider the applications of warehouse management system for large container yards as an illustration example. The RFID system can be used as the main tool for a real time monitoring and inquiry of the trac, locations of entry/exit and storage of containers. Therefore we know that unmanned RFID wireless tag system has become one of the key methods with the most potential for warehouse management. However, this application of metal object management will face a problem when electronic tag of RFID is place on large metal materials (such as containers). The destructive interference from the environment to the system performance of RFID will aect the accuracy and distance of RFID reading. The solution provided by this study can help the system to achieve a longer reading distance by improving the antenna performance. Therefore, this study not only has academic signicance, but also provides a solution to meet the requirements of practical applications. In particular, this paper presents a new antenna design that can be pasted on the surface of a large mental object based on the implementation of microstrip-type antenna structure. In order to reduce the antenna size, a new feeding structure that employs a loop circuit located within the antenna structure is proposed. Numerical and experimental studies have been performed and have shown that the new antenna design may signicantly enhance the RFID reading distance.

This application will face a common problem arising from a fact that a large metal object usually has a rather large radar cross section (RCS) [13] and results in signicant interferences to the reading of the tag. The problem of radar cross section (RCS) area, , of metal object to the RFID tag antenna has been revealed and can be found in [13]. In various applications, the installation of tag antenna on metal objects with the micro-strip line approach will cause the malfunction of micro-strip antenna because its RCS is very small due to the interference from the radar cross section eect of large metal object. The electronic license plate is an example for this. The second issue is that the RFID tag antenna is usually made of metal. When it is attached to metal object

PIERS ONLINE, VOL. 7, NO. 8, 2011


at a low operating frequency of 900 MHz band, a short circuit might occur if the distance between top and bottom metal surfaces is less than 1 mm, and this will lead to a signicant degradation of RFID performance. In this study we employed a tag IC produced by TI (Texas Instruments) with the model number RI-UHF-STRAP-08 and operating frequency at 860 MHZ960 MHz. Factors aecting the reading range of RFID system can be divided into two aspects, i.e., forward radio link and backscatter radio link [4, 5]. However, the fully established connection is essential regardless of forward radio link or backscatter radio link. Therefore it is desired to maximize the system transmission distance.

In this paper we consider the large metal object as a part of antenna and propose a new antenna design to achieve the design requirement of maximum reading distance over 3 meters. In the study we utilize a simulation tool of HFSS to design a horizontally polarized antenna. The main antenna design concept is to use a loop circuit as an excitation to the micro-strip antenna as illustrated in Figure 2. A loop circuit is referred because two short pins have been employed to connect the feeding line and the top surface of microstrip patch. The feeding microstrip circuit is formed in a meanderline shape which allows one to reduce the size of microstrip patch. This way the original micro-strip antenna design can operate normally, and the communication performance and read range can be enhanced by including metal substrate as part of the antenna design as shown in Figure 2.

Figure 1: Reected modulation UHF RFID system.

Figure 2: Including metal substrate as part of the antenna design.


0 D = 15 mm D = 20 mm -5 D = 22.4 mm

X Y = 110 110 mm X Y = 120 120 mm -4 X Y = 129 129 mm X Y = 130 130 mm -8 S11 [dB]

-10 S11 [dB]

D = 25 mm

X Y = 140 140 mm





-25 0.8 0.85 0.9 0.95 Freq. [GHz] 1 1.05 1.1

-20 0.8 0.85 0.9 0.95 Freq. [GHz] 1 1.05 1.1

Figure 3: Four dierent heights at 15/20/22.4/25 mm by design of vertical heights on the left and right sides of loop antenna at 915 MHz.

Figure 4: Dimension of radiation metal plate vs. antenna eciency.

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The basic theory for loop circuit design is based on its need of /2 to produce a pair of magnetic currents for same polarization in the design of patch antenna. We may change the range of main operating frequency by changing the length of loop circuit. In the current design, the center frequency is at 915 MHz. To understand the characteristics of the antenna design, one varies the height of the patch measured from the ground by 15/20/22.4/25 mm, where the variations of reection coecients are shown in Figure 3. In this case, it is observed that a large value of height will increase the bandwidth of operational frequency. Secondly, one examines the eects of the patch size to the antenna performance. A characteristic study is shown in Figure 4 where the reection coecients of the antenna with respect to various patch sizes are shown. In the end from Figures 4 and 5 we conclude that the dimension of 129 129 mm will lead to the optimal working frequency performance and pattern size and direction. This is as shown in Figures 4 and 5. The loop circuit with center frequency at 915 MHz is designed on the FR4 PCB board with the dimension of 1.2 80 136 mm as shown in Figure 6. The micro-strip antenna of PCB board will be facing downward directly to the large copper ground (0.05 thickness 240 width 240 length mm) with vertical distance between them at 0.6 mm. The vertical loop conductors on both sides of loop antenna are connected to radiation copper plate (0.05 thickness 129 width 129 length mm) above loop antenna by using tinned copper wire (0.1 width 0.65 thickness 22.4 length mm) to construct the complete loop antenna structure. The working bandwidth of original design of TAG antenna is 850 MHz930 MHz with center frequency as 915 MHz. The measured 3D pattern with center frequency of 0.915 GHz shown in Figure 7 indicates that the maximum energy occurs vertically above the antenna, The further conrmation of results of co-polarization and cross-polarization at XZ plane or Y Z plan as shown in the curve Figures 8 and 9 indicate that the polarization with the maximum performance all occurs at 0 degree of every plane, and the cross-polarization with the maximum performance occurs at 45 degrees of every plane. Therefore we know that this TAG antenna is capable of complete communication of data transmission with RFID reader along the Z axis perpendicular to antenna according to design requirement without being aected by large metal substrate. The signal transmitted from RFID reader can also be sent to IC chip with the most complete fashion.

Figure 5: 3D radiation pattern with dimension of radiation metal plate (129 mm 129 mm).

Figure 6: Micro-strip antenna beneath the FR4 PCB board.

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The designed antenna is examined in the test of reading range by using the ALIEN ALR-9800 RFID reader available in the market as the main testing system equipment which has the same range of working frequency at 900 MHz928 MHz band. Experiment has shown that at a reading range of 4.8 meters straightly away from the reader the amount of recognizable data is 1180 items/second, which is acceptable in a practical application. This is the farthest reading range this antenna has achieved. We also examined the situation when the antennas boresite does not point directly to the antenna. We have observed that at an angle of within 40 degrees, the reading range is roughly 4.6 meters away from reader.

Figure 7: 3D radiation pattern with center frequency 915 MHz.

Figure 8: Co-polarized and cross-polarized pattern at XZ plane with 915 MHz. 6. CONCLUSIONS

Figure 9: Co-polarized and cross-polarized pattern at Y Z plane with 915 MHz.

In this paper a new antenna design is presented, which has been shown to improve the RFID system performance signicantly. In particular, our study shows that the antenna can be placed on a large metal substrate and can indeed achieve the working performance without the need to use additional medium (such as absorbers) between Tag and metal plate as an insulator. The main concept of design is to add a loop circuit inside the original micro-strip antenna, which can change the eld

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distribution within the substrates of microstrip-type antenna, and therefore change the magnetic currents existed on the slots formed by the patch and ground such that the malfunctioning antenna placed too close to metal plate can now operate normally. The overall isolation and reading distance are enhanced. From simulation results we know that the combination of metal object and original antenna will surely aect the energy reception and frequency variation. By appropriately modifying the performance of the auxiliary loop circuit, the corresponding center frequency can be obtained. The proper impedance can also be obtained to match the metal.

1. Nikitin, P. V. and K. V. Seshagiri Rao, Theory and measurement of backscattering from RFID tags, IEEE Antennas and Propagation Magazine, Vol. 48, No. 6, 212218, December 2006. 2. Lu, C.-S., Characteristic investigation on the UHF passive RFID tag design when it is pasted on a large metal body, Master Thesis, Department of Communications Engineering, Yuan-Ze University, 2009. 3. Seshagiri Rao, K. V., P. V. Nikitin, and S. F. Lam, Antenna design for UHF RFID tags: A review and a practical application, IEEE Transactions on Antennas and Propagation, Vol. 53, No. 12, 38703876, December 2005. 4. Wen, S.-K., Read range of passive RFID systems and impact of tag antenna curving on RFID, Master Thesis, Department of Communications Engineering, Yuan-Ze University, 2008. 5. Nikitin, P. V., K. V. S. Rao, S. F. Lam, V. Pillai, R. Martinez, and H. Heinrich, Power reection coecient analysis for complex impedances in RFID tag design, IEEE Transactions on Microwave Theory and Techniques, Vol. 53, No. 9, 27212725, Dec. 2006.