Date of Award

Winter 2009

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Micro and Nanoscale Systems

First Advisor

Kody Varahramyan


This dissertation presents a chipless radio frequency identification (RFID) sensor tag system consisting of passive chipless RFID sensor tags and specialized reader. The chipless sensor tags are fabricated on a flexible substrate and contain an ID generation circuit, a sensor, and a microstrip antenna. The ID generation circuit consists of meandered microstrip transmission lines and uses a novel reflection and delay based ID generation scheme. The scheme, using an input RF pulse, constructs an on-off keying (OOK) or pulse position modulated (PPM) signal pattern representing a unique ID code. Two transmission lines and OOK representation are used and the generation of ten different ID codes are demonstrated. The integrated ID generation circuit, sensor, and antenna use a single transmission line and PPM representation, and demonstrate the generation of eight different ID codes. However, the presented schemes allow the generation of higher combinations of bits.

A practical method to measure radar cross section (RCS) parameters of antennas that provides complete and more accurate information on scattering properties of antennas, essential for chipless sensor tag design, is presented. The new method uses minimum mean square error estimation solution of a derived received backscattered signal power equation and provides load independent structural-mode RCS, antenna-mode RCS, and relative phase factor of the measured antenna. Two configurations of the chipless sensor tags configuration-I (conf-I) and configuration-II (conf-II) are presented.

In conf-I tags, sensors are connected as a load to the antenna and the sensor information is amplitude modulated in the backscattered signal. The testing with conf-I temperature sensor tag resulted in a 28% amplitude change when the temperature at the tag changes from 27°C to 140°C. In conf-II tags, sensors are connected as load to the ID generation circuit and the sensor information is phase modulated in the antenna-mode scattered signal. With the conf-II ethylene sensor tag, a phase change of 33° is observed when the ethylene concentration at the tag changes from 0 to 100 ppm. The specialized reader system is comprised of an analog reader that wirelessly communicates with the sensor tags and a single board computer that computes the sensor information from the received signal. The reader system constructs a 96 bit serialized global trade item number (SGTIN-96) electronic product code (EPC) format unique RFID tag data frame, including 16 bit sensor information, and makes the information available on a secure web interface accessible from cyberspace. The presented sensor tag system has the advantages of passive and chipless sensor tag operation, while offering a wide range of sensors types for integration. Moreover, it offers a viable alternative solution to existing active as well as passive RFID sensor tag systems (eg. SAW based RFID sensor tag systems).