CPI to print low cost energy harvesting device for use in NFC applications

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The Centre for Process Innovation (CPI) has announced a project to develop a printed energy harvesting device that is powered by near-field communication (NFC). The device will facilitate the wider adoption of NFC-enabled applications in consumer packaging, document and brand security, in addition to wireless sensor networks for defence, healthcare and medical devices.

The project titled ‘HaRFest’ is being led by PragmatIC Printing Ltd and involves CPI alongside the EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Large-Area Electronics, represented by its academic partners, the University of Cambridge and the Welsh Centre for Printing and Coating.

The aim of the project is to develop and scale up production of the energy harvesting device which is suitable for integration with sensors, displays and storage devices. The device will house a printed antenna alongside printed passive and active components, including an array of tuning capacitors. The device will be able to be tuned to resonant frequency maximising the harvested power output.

Sandy Gunn, business development manager at CPI said: “The challenge ahead is to develop the energy harvesting technology which is proven at laboratory scale and to move it towards the volumes and price points that facilitate mass market adoption.”

Applications are numerous, from interactive point-of-sale products and branding to disposable printed bio-sensors used in blood analysis and unobtrusive printed smart labels that allow for identification and anti-counterfeiting control. The integration of advanced printed sensors into packaging opens up a wide range of market opportunities to create products with added value. Sensors can be designed to indicate the validity or quality of a product or whether the packaging has been subject to tampering or excursions during its transport and storage prior to purchase.