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Modeling and design of NFC/RFID backbone

using a Computer Aided Design tool

Conference Paper · April 2016

DOI: 10.1109/ICDIPC.2016.7470811


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4 authors, including:

Yehya NASSER Mohammad A. Bazzoun

Institut National des Sciences Appliquées de … Lebanese International University


Ali Chamas Al Ghouwayel

Lebanese International University


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Modeling And Design of NFC/RFID BackboneUsing
a Computer Aided Design Tool

Yehya A. Nasser, Mohammad A. Bazzoun, Hussein Hijazi, and Ali Al Ghouwayel

School of Engineering, Department of Computer and Communication, Lebanese International University, Beirut-Lebanon

Abstract—This paper introduces a Schematic Model of the requirements as well as power transfer requirements. To meet
Magnetic Coupling revolving in the NFC/RFID Systemusing a the power transfer requirements, the received power at the Tag
Computer Aided Design tool.Industry bodies are developing must be sufficiently enough as to provide operating power at
programs to improve NFC/RFID devices based on several the Tag[4]. NFC supports two modes of communication: the
specifications. Magnetic coupling is one of the most important active mode or peer-to-peer and the passive mode or
factorsin near-field communication. Thus a Schematic Model is reader/writer. In active mode, both the devices generate their
proposed, based on a precise standardized specifications and own magnetic field and require power supply in each of them.
dimensions, which takes into consideration the impedance While in passive mode, one of the devices (an active device)
matching network, in addition to the coupling coefficient and the
generates its magnetic field and the other devices (i.e., passive
voltage transformation. Simulations are accomplished using
Advanced Design System (ADS) which yields pretty good results
device, such as contactless smart card or smart posters) retrieve
that may help designers of the NFC/RFID technology to the power from the active device.
ameliorate their suggested design for an efficient and The NFC contactless system using communications across
reliablecommunication. an inductive coupling link consists of a transmitter coil, a
receiver coil and a communication channel between the two
Keywords—Near Field Communication (NFC), Reader, Tag, entities[5]. Similar to the transformer principle, the magnetic
Mtaching Network, Coupling ceofficient.
near-field of two conductor coils is used to couple the Reader
I. INTRODUCTION and the Tag. Hence, the inductive coupling connects the
Reader with the Tag via their loop antennas[3]. The coupling is
Near Field Communication (NFC) is a standard-based represented by the coupling coefficient k, which is affected by
short-range wireless connectivity technology that makes life the separating distance between the two antenna loops. Some
easier and more convenient for consumers around the world. simulation and experimental approaches have been employed
NFC makes it simpler to connect electronic devices via to compute the coupling coefficient in several near-field
Electromagnetic Field.Data transmission between two NFC scenarios, including for the case of a practical near-field ultra-
interfaces uses high-frequency magnetic alternating fields in high frequency (UHF) and radio-frequency identification
the frequency range of 13.56 MHz[1].Thus, inductively (RFID) systems[6]. However, in this paper, the proposed
coupled NFC technology allows the devices to communicate model of the coupling occurring in the NFC/RFID System is
through the coupling of magnetic field rather than the energy examined based on specific standardized Features and
radiation-interception process in far-field communications[2]. measurements related to this Technology.
It enables users to perform intuitive, safe, contactless
transactions, access digital content and connect electronic NFC is as wireless data interface between devices, is
devices simply by bringing devices into close proximity. similar to Infrared or the well-known Bluetooth. However,
Moreover, users can share business cards, access information NFC has several characteristics that are of interest in relation to
from a smart poster or provide credentials for access control RFID systems[1]. Bluetooth wireless technology was designed
systems. to replace cables between cell phones, laptops, and other
computing and communication devices within a 10 meter
The NFC coupling system consists of a contactless HF range. Moreover, Wi-Fi technology was designed and
“Reader” and a contactless card “Tag” [3]. The Proximity optimized for Local Area Networks (LAN); communication
Coupling Device (PCD) or the Reader is an antenna connected within a 100 meter range. RFID is an automatic identification
to an electronic circuit. Whereas the Proximity Integrated method, relying on storing and remotely retrieving data using
Circuit Card (PICC) or the Tag consists of an inductive antenna devices called RFID tags. All mentioned applications use
and an integrated circuit connected to the ends of the antenna. electromagnetic waves in communication. However, in NFC,
NFC operates in a frequency range centered on 13.56 MHz i.e. an extension of RFID, the communication is achieved
and offers a data transmission rate of up to 424 kbps within a through magnetic coupling, so there is no signal propagation.
distance of up to 10 cm by using Amplitude Shift Keying This paper introduces a Schematic Model (soft design) that
(ASK) as the modulation scheme. The Operating range of a describes the NFC/RFID system. First the Reader and the Tag
Reader-Tag pair is determined by communications are modeled, then the matching network of each device is

designed to achieve the desired modeling of the NFC/RFID resistance of the coil in Ohms.The Reader antenna has a Q-
system. Thereafter, we study the main parameter which is the factor of 45. As shown in(2), RANT, the parallel resistor to
quality factor of the whole system. The Reader and Tag models LREADERwhich represents the resistivity of the Reader antenna,
presented in this paper have been designed and simulated with is computed and equals to 7.210 KΩ.
Advanced Design System (ADS).
After modeling the Reader antenna using lumped elements
The paper is organized as follows: Section II presents the on ADS, simulation is carried out to generate the S-parameters
proposed Reader Modeling design, whereas Section III of the antenna and check the reflection coefficient S11 of the
describes the proposed Tag Modeling design. Section IV modeled antenna. The modeled antenna reveals a maximum
introduces the NFC/RFID System Modeling and Design. reflection coefficient S11 at 13.56 MHz (the operating
Section V shows and interprets different simulation result. frequency of the Reader antenna). Thus to minimize this high
Finally, our conclusions are presented in Section VI. reflection and to match the modeled reader antenna to the
power source SRC1, a “Matching Network” is required.
B. Matching Netwrok design of the “Reader” antenna
A. Antenna Modeling of the NFC “Reader”
An impedance adjustment network, simply called
The Reader antenna is a complex inductive load. It can be “Matching Network”, is the next stage. It transforms the
modeled bylumped components and can bewell represented by: antenna impedance ZANT into a different impedance equals to
itsself-inductance LREADER, parasitic antenna capacitance CANT, the power source impedance ZS.
and internal resistance R. An inductor LREADER is essentially
just a coil of wire and so often has a non-negligible resistance. Hence, the “Matching Network” is desired to satisfy the
This is most readily modeled as a resistor R (of resistance 0.25 NFC/RFID standardized requirements concerning the operating
Ω) in series with the inductor. An equivalent RLC circuit frequency of the Reader antenna, and to guarantee a minimum
shown in Fig. 1is used to describe the electrical behavior of the reflection from the antenna toward the power source or a
Reader antenna. maximum power transfer from the Reader antenna to the Tag
antenna. In addition,the “Matching Network” is necessary to
adjust the reader antenna resonance frequency FRES.

Fig. 1- Reader Antenna Model.

The parasitic antenna capacitance CANT (derived using the

resonance frequency FRESof the reader antenna) is equal to
29.21 pF as shown in(1). The resonance frequency of the
reader antenna is 34 MHz.
1 1
⋅ LREADER Fig. 2- S11of Reader Antenna after Matching Network.
CANT = 2 = 29.21ρF By tuning the modeled antenna in order to have a minimum
4π ⋅ (34MHz )2 ⋅ (750nH ) reflection S11 and to achieve the operating frequency of the
NFC/RFID system, we start by adding capacitors in parallel
The Quality Factor, or Q-Factor, describes how under- and series and check S11 of the antenna to regulate S11 to have
damped a resonator is; the higher the Q-factor the less damping the minimum reflection at 13.56 MHz. In parallel with the
there is. In an electrical resonator circuit, damping is caused by modeled antenna,we add two capacitors C1 and C2, where C1is
the loss of energy in resistive components. a fixed capacitor (of 87.55 pF capacitance) and C2is the
variable (tunable) capacitor. In series with the modeled
1 antenna, we add C3 and C4, where C3 is fixed capacitor (of
Q = ω ⋅C ANT RANT ;ω =
LREADERC ANT 13.011 pF capacitance) and C4 is the variable capacitor, as
(2) shown in Fig. 3.
 RANT = 45⋅ = 7.210ΚΩ Using ADS Tuner Tool in the schematic of the modeled
antenna, and after tuning the variable capacitor fractions, we
achieve a -53.165 dB reflection coefficient at 13.56 MHz as
The Quality factor-Q of the Reader antenna is the ratio of shown in Fig. 2. S11 is minimum (-53.165 dB) at 13.56 MHz
reactance of the coil to its resistance. Thus for an inductor, Q- and the resulting modeled “Matching Network” with Reader
factor is expressed asin (2), where LREADER is the effective antenna are shown in Fig. 3. Therefore, the designed Matching
inductance of the coil in Henrys and RANT is the effective Networkis a frequency dependent capacitive Network that

produces, in addition to the Reader antenna, a 50 Ω impedance 1
at 13.56 MHz. Q = ω ⋅CANT RANT ;ω =
 RANT = 72 ⋅ =58.07ΚΩ

To tune the antenna in order to achieve a minimum

acceptable reflection at the operating frequency of the Tag
antenna and to maximize the absorption of the power
transmitter by the Reader antenna, a “Matching Network” is
Fig. 3- Reader Model Design.

External resistors (R2 and R3), of 1.38 Ω equivalent

resistance, are added in series with the antenna. Their function
is to sense the current in the coil and to allow for batch to batch
variations in the characteristics of the coil.
A. Antenna Modeling of the NFC “Tag”
The behavior of the NFC/RFID “Tag” antenna can be
mimicked with a parallel resonant circuit, as it is shown inFig.
4. It is composed by the antenna’s inductanceLTAG, the
impedance adjustment network capacitor CANT and the internal
resistance Rof 0.85Ω.
Fig. 5-S11of Tag Antenna before Matching Network.

B. Matching Netwrokdesign of the “Tag” antenna

The Tag antenna has an inductive characteristic (imaginary
part). So the matching is achievedby removing the imaginary
part which yields a purely real antenna at the operating
frequency of the Tag antenna. Thus, the phase at the Tag
antenna Ѳ (Z11) should be approximately zero in order to
Fig. 4-Tag Antenna Model. achieve the matching. By adding capacitors C2 and C3in
parallel, the inductive characteristic of the Tag antenna will be
Using the resonance frequency of the Tag antenna which is deleted. One of the added capacitors is fixed with 29 pF (C2)
equal to 53.5 MHz, the parasitic antenna capacitance CANTis whereas the other capacitor is variable and used for tuning the
computed which yields3.69 pF, as shown in(3). modeled antenna.
1 1
2 2
⋅ L2
CANT = 2 = 3.69ρF
4π ⋅ (53.5MHz )2 ⋅ (2.4μH )

For the Tag antenna which is modeled by an inductor, the

Q-factor is expressed as in (4), where LTAG is the effective
inductance of the coil in Henrys and RANT is the effective
resistance of the coil in Ohms. The Tag antenna has a Q-factor
of 72.RANT, the parallel resistor to LTAG represents the
resistivity of the Tag antenna, is computed and equals to 58.07
KΩ as shown in Fig. 4.
After modeling the Tag antenna using lumped elements on Fig. 6- Z11 of Tag Antenna after Tuning.
ADS, simulation is carried out to generate the S-parameters
and Z-parameters of the modeled antenna and check the Using the ADS Tuner Tool, we subsequently tune the
reflection coefficient S11 of the modeled antenna. The antenna capacitor C3 and monitor Ѳ (Z11) at each new value, until
reveals a minimum reflection (S11=-1.024 dB) at 23.09 MHz as having an approximately zero-phase Ѳ (Z11). As shown in Fig.
shown in Fig. 5, which is not the required operating frequency. 6, the phase of the impedance of the modeled antenna is

approximately zero (Ѳ (Z11) = -0.415) at 16.05 MHz. The coils[9]. As in a typical transformer, the voltage in the Reader
resonance frequency is achieved when having an antenna coil is transferred to the Tag antenna coil and vice
approximately zero-phase. Thus at 16.05 the Tag will operate versa. When the Tag and reader antennas are in close
at the resonance frequency, which is the carrier frequency of proximity, the time-varying magnetic field that is produced by
the Tag. The most efficient energy transmission to a Tag is a Reader antenna coil due to the presence of the generator
achieved, if the transponder resonance frequency is set very “SRC1” as shown in Fig. 9 induces a voltage in the tag antenna
close to the carrier frequency [7]. coil. The current flow in the primary coil produces a magnetic
flux that causes a voltage induction at the secondary
coil[10].The induced voltage in the coil causes a flow of
current on the Tag coil that will power up the Tag.

μ0 ⋅ n1 ⋅ n2 ⋅π ⋅d12 ⋅d22
M= (6)
2( z 2 + d 22 )

According to Biot-savart law, “M” shown in (6) is

Fig. 7- Tag Model Design. equivalent to a voltage transformation in typical transformer
applications, where μ0 is the magnetic constant (4π ×10-7), n1
The resulting Tag model design is shown in Fig. 7, where and n2 are the numbers of turns of each antenna coil,d1= 7cm
C2 and C3 represent the Matching Network (Tuning Network). and d2= 8 cm are the diameters of Tag and Reader antennas
The value of the added capacitors can be chosen or tuned to get respectively,and z is the separating distance between the two
the desired resonant frequency. coil antennas.
Additionally, the bridge rectifier transforms the sinusoidal μ0 ⋅ n1 ⋅ n2 ⋅π ⋅ d12 ⋅d 22
signal received by the Tag antenna to a DC-voltage, as supply k= (7)
( )
LREADER ⋅ LTAG ⋅ ( z 2 + d 22 )
for the Tag chip (Integrated Circuit). The bridge rectifier is 2
composed by the 4 diodes and the capacitor C4.
Communication between Reader and Tag is done through The magnetic coupling between the two antennas is
magnetic coupling, and data is sent from the Tag to the Reader modeled on ADS by the Mutual Inductance block (represented
by means of Load Modulation. A variation in the loadat the by k) between the two coil antennas as shown inFig. 9.
Tag side increases the current passing through the Tag antenna,
( μ ⋅ n ⋅ n ⋅π ⋅d ⋅d22 )
which affects the mutual coupling between Tag and Reader. 2

Thereafter, the current passing through the Reader antenna coil 2

z = x −d ; x =
0 1 2 1
2( k ) ⋅ ( LREADER ⋅ LTAG )
2/3 1/3
increases, where this variation in the current causes a voltage
variation by means of amplitude modulation. This technique is
called Load Modulation.
Hence, from (5) and (6),the coupling coefficient k and the
IV. THE COMPLETE MODELING OF NFC/RFID SYSTEM separating distance z can be represented as a function of coils
geometry and the spacing between them as given in (7) and in
In NFC/RFID systems, it is desirable for Tags tobe (8), where LREADER and LTAG are the inductance of the Reader
detectable within a specified read range and not beyond that. In and Tag coil antennas, respectively.
other words, within a specific range of separating distances, the
Tag can communicate wirelessly with the Reader through
magnetic coupling.The Magnetic coupling connects the Reader
to the Tag, which is typically in a Proximity distance, via their
k= (5)
L1 ⋅ L2

The parameter magnetic coupling is designated by the

mutual inductance “M”, or the coupling coefficient “k”, which
is affected by the separating distance between the two
antennas. In addition the geometrical antenna shape influences
the value of k [8].
Fig. 8- Output Voltage Measured at the Tag Side
The voltage transfer between the Reader and Tag coils is
accomplished through magnetic coupling between the two

Fig. 9- Schematic of NFC/RFID Modeled System.

The output voltage in a standard NFC/RFID System is a Depending on the separating distance, we can notice a
key point concerning the NFC passive mode, specifically the decrease in the coupling coefficient and the output voltage at
Tag. So an average of 5 volts (DC) is needed to power up the the Tag terminals when the separating distance increase as
Tag (passive) using the RF field to have a reliable shown in TABLE I. Thus, for an efficient communication
communication between Tag and Reader. The 5 volts at the between the modeled Reader and Tag, the separating distance
Tag side is required to feed the Integrated Circuit or the between them should not exceeds 10 cm to have a reliable
Microcontroller in the Tag that is responsible for signal communication without any dis-connectivity. So by increasing
processing, modulation, and cryptography. For this reason a the separating distance up to 20 cm, we may lose the
standard NFC/RFID system need to be tested to avoid any connection between the two devices.
point of failure due to the degradation of voltage when
separating distance increase. As illustrated in the Fig. 8 we
noted that there is an acceptable output voltage (5 volts) when
the separating distance z is 5.2 cm, which is sufficiently
enough to power up the Tag.
Finally, we present results for several NFC coupling
scenarios as function of separating distance between Reader
and Tag based on the proposed model presented in Fig. 9.
In order to successfully design and optimize NFC systems,
it is critical to investigate the antenna coupling that occurs
when antennas are placed in close proximity.
Fig. 10- Coupling Coefficient for NFC/RFID Modeled System vs Distance.
The reader inductance LREADER ensures the generation of
the magnetic field, whereas the tag inductance LTAG allows
receiving the signal. The magnetic field due to the interaction
between the two coils is characterized by a coupling coefficient
k [11]. The coupling coefficient k shows a significant decrease
when the separating distances increase as shown inFig. 10.
Based on the given equations and the schematic model
shown inFig. 9, calculations are done using the Mathematical
model (equations of k), and simulation in the time domain is
carried out to investigate a coupling scenario of the two loop
antennas over varied separating distances. Simulation is
proposed to notice at which distance the voltage transferred
from the Reader antenna to the Tag antenna will degrade and
will not be sufficient to power up the Tag.
Fig. 11- Output Voltage of NFC/RFID Modeled System vs Distance.
As shown in Fig. 11, the output voltage measured at the
terminals of the Tag (output of the Bridge Rectifier) decreases The comparison shows a pretty good matching for our
when the separating distance increases. Moreover, the output mathematical model calculations and measurement results done
voltage at the Tag terminal vanishes (0.14 volts) when the by [5] as shown in Fig. 10. So when the separating distance is
separating distance becomes 20 cm. Moreover when the less than 5 cm there is a slight difference between our results
separating distance increase more than 7 cm the output and the measurement results in [5]. Whereaswhen the
voltageshown in TABLE I, which is responsible to power up separating distance become more than 5 cm and less than 11
the IC of the Tag, will become less than 3 voltsthat is not cm a good matching occurs between our results and the
efficient to power up the IC of the Tag. measurements in [5].Furthermore our proposed mathematical

model is verified after a certain critical distance (5 cm).This oursupervisors Dr. Hussein Hijazi and Dr. Ali Al Ghouwayel
confirms the reliability of our NFC/RFID model and design for helping and mentoring us throughout this project,andthe
regarding the coupling coefficient versus the separating Department of Computer and Communication Engineering at
distance between Reader and Tag, where the optimization of Lebanese International University for their facilities and
such Model relies on the Matching Network design of both support.
Reader and Tag.
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ISBN: 978-1-4673-7503-0 ©2016 IEEE 174

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