The Graphene Flagship's Italian partner CNR-ISOF has found that it is possible to use graphene to produce fully flexible NFC antennas. By combining material characterization, computer modelling and engineering of the device, the Graphene Flagship researchers designed an antenna that could exchange information with near-field communication devices such as a mobile phone, matching the performance of conventional metallic antennas.
The graphene-based NFC antennas are chemically inert, highly resistant to thousands of bending cycles and can be deposited on different standard polymeric substrates or silk tissues. The fully flexible graphene NFC device demonstrators were tested with a smartphone through the NFC reader App by the Graphene Flagship partner STMicroelectronics, showing good functionality whether flat or fixed on curved objects.
According to the team, if this approach is performed in the right way, the graphene antennas can be used directly in working devices, with no additional tuning of, for example, software or hardware of the interacting devices. In addition, some fully working graphene smart cards were prepared in order to be used as electronic keys, business cards and other typical NFC applications. The aim is to find new industrial collaboration partners to develop the graphene based NFC antennas into large scale production.
Near-field communication (NFC) is a set of communication protocols that enables two electronic devices to transfer data. The most distinctive characteristic of NFC is the fact that it can transmit small amount of data wireless only within a close range while other methods, such as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, have a wide transmit range of up to 10 or even 100m. The reason why NFC technology is used to identify objects is that, with such a close transmitting range, it is more secure and less vulnerable to data hijacking. Application areas are tracking and managing inventories, assets, people, animals, contactless payment systems, security cards and social networking.