IMMS: Batteryless RFID sensor chip sends measured data out of aqueous solutions

IMMS presents via live-demo a passive RFID microelectronic chip with remote power supply. Placed into aqueous solutions, the chip measures temperature data which is captured and processed by an RFID reader unit. With this energy-efficient chip developed by IMMS, values are being measured and digitised with a power consumption of very few microwatts (approximately 3.5 microwatt). This would facilitate the use of a sensor operable without interruption for at least a 10-year period from a mignon battery with a typical capacity of 1000 mAh. Thanks to this ultra-low power consumption a battery is dispensable: an RFID reader unit generates an electromagnetic field which is sufficient to supply the passive RFID chip with power and to record and send data through containers and liquids over distances of up to four centimetres.

The development is a result of the ADMONT European Union joint project which sees IMMS doing research and development on the design of intelligent in-vitro diagnostic und bioanalytical sensor and actuator systems and which will run until 2019. The RFID-Chip combines high accuracy, energy-efficient operation and cost efficiency. The new digital RFID-coupled temperature sensor acquires values in  the large measuring range from –40 °C to 125 °C with an accuracy of +/–0,5 °C. To reach a power consumption of only 3.5 microwatt, IMMS eliminated analog-to-digital converters which consume much energy. As a substitute, IMMS implemented a time-coded signal processing which allows the conversion of  temperature values into  timing signals. This digital information can be handled with minimised energy consumption.  For a low-cost solution IMMS harnessed off-the-shelf, reasonably priced CMOS technology and developed a single-chip solution with integrated sensors and with embedded electronic signal processing. This chip does not need any further components besides the RFID antenna.

The batteryless principle for RFID sensors which is introduced at the MEDICA is currently being transferred by IMMS to other measurands to lay the foundation for various applications in bioanalysis and beyond.

The ADMONT project has revived funding from the ECSEL Joint Undertaking under grant agreement No 661796. This Joint Undertaking has revived support as Innovation Action from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and Finland, Sweden, Italy, Austria, Hungary. The IMMS sub-project "Design of intelligent in vitro diagnostic und bioanalytical sensor and actuator systems" has revived funding under the reference 16ESE0057.

About IMMS
IMMS serves small and medium-sized industrial enterprises through preliminary research. It acts as their strategic partner in the development of micro-electronic and mechatronic products and of systems technology.

This entails devising extremely precise and energy-efficient comprehensive solutions for the fields of automation, semi-conductors, medical technology, life sciences, and environmental or automotive engineering. A further role of IMMS is to contribute research to the technology of a range of industrial techniques: communications, measuring and control technologies and micro-/nano-engineering. For its partners, IMMS is the cutting edge, slicing through the barriers between science and manufacturing, so that in many cases its partners will be five or ten years ahead of the competition. IMMS is thus a veritable bridge between science and industry. The IMMS motto, "Wir verbinden die IT mit der realen Welt", emphasizes the need and the challenges inherent in connecting IT to the real world. Consequently, the Institute concerns itself with designing and creating sensor and actuator systems, control and feedback systems, and signal processing systems, then also integrating the systems and linking them to their environment. The work is to develop and optimize all the individual system elements, components and circuits and to achieve communication not only between those elements but between them and their environment. Currently, there are 80 staff members working at this Institute, which was founded in 1995 as an associated research institute of the TU.


Images: IMMS