Dynamic RFID tag with optical controller

Secure information transfer provides reliability in friend or foe identification

Communications Electronics

Scientists and engineers at the Naval Surface Warfare Center–Dahlgren Division have recently improved on the security of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags to maintain data transfer privacy. The patented technology is available via patent license agreement to companies that would make, use, or sell it commercially.

Scott Lewis/Flickr

RFID technology is now a standard method of tracking objects and has permeated industry and military sectors. Growth of RFID signals in the airwaves has trended with nefarious ways of intercepting the data carried and the potentially illegal use of the data. Such negative uses may include corporate espionage or the intercepting of troop movement information on the battlefield. Regardless, the ease of deployment of this technology is compromised by the ease of hacking it. This is especially concerning when RFID is used to determine friend or foe.

Dynamic RFID tags promise to make friend or foe identification more reliable and secure. Such tags could use microchips to store data that are retransmitted when interrogated. The information of the ID could be coded in the modulation provided by the microchip. Each modulated signal would correspond to a unique identifier that could be changed dynamically in response to different interrogators.

A research group from the Navy has embodied the above approach in an RFID tag for receiving and reflecting electromagnetic energy at select frequency bands of visible and infrared wavelengths. This new RFID tag includes an electrically conductive backplane; a dielectric substrate disposed on the backplane; a light guide film (LGF) disposed on the substrate and metamaterial elements. The LGF has an exposed surface segregated into domains. The metamaterial elements are disposed on a domain. Each element is tuned to respond to a corresponding frequency among the select frequency bands.

Depending on the application and operational environment, the device can be interactively tuned either through infrared interrogation or LGF based on the reflector array of tunable meta-resonators. Dynamical RFID is useful for identification switch and can interchange during operations to enhance identifying friend and foe. The design concept is also applicable for electrical tuning.

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