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Infineon’s NFC controller with energy-harvesting enables battery-free smart sensing IoT solutions

March 17, 2023

Posted by: Janmesh Chintankar

Munich, Germany – NFC-based sensing controllers with energy-harvesting capabilities are critical for the development of passive smart devices that can operate with high accuracy, efficiency, and design convenience in a wide range of IoT applications. With the NGC1081, Infineon Technologies AG expands its product portfolio of NFC tag-side controllers.

The new IC is a single-chip solution that enables the IoT industry to develop low-cost, miniaturised, smart edge computing/sensing devices, maximising the benefits for both end-users and manufacturers. Such devices can be controlled and powered by mobile phones, with potential applications ranging from medical patches and disposable point-of-case testers to data loggers, smart thermostats, and sensor inlays.

The tag-side controller supports a dual power supply function, allowing it to operate in a passive mode (battery-free) based on energy harvesting, or in a battery-powered mode, operating as a self-contained sensing node via a 3 to 3.3 V external power supply. In passive mode, the entire sensing system, including the IC and its connected sensors, can draw power via energy harvesting from the NFC field of a mobile phone. Together with its naturally galvanically isolated sensing interface, these features open up countless possibilities for creating many sensing use cases that require no batteries and minimal maintenance. This is particularly useful for applications where the power supply needs to be galvanically isolated to meet the safety requirement.

The NFC tag-side controller is based on a low-power ARM Cortex-M0 microcontroller and integrates several key components. These include an NFC frontend compliant with the ISO14443 type-A standard and a motor control driver that employs an H-bridge circuit with a current drive capability of up to 250 mA. NGC1081 also features a sensing unit based on a 12-bit SAR ADC with four analog inputs and a 10-bit DAC with one analog output. The sensing unit also comprises an I2V converter and an integrated temperature sensor that provides an accuracy of ±0.3°C over the temperature range of 0°C to 45°C and ±0.4 °C from -20°C to 0°C and 45°C to 85°C.

This highly-integrated single-chip solution enables customers to implement smart sensing devices with miniaturised product design and reduced system bill-of-material costs. In addition, the tangible IC architecture and the well-designed hardware/software partitioning allow customers to create fully flexible software-defined functions. The configurability and versatility of the controller make it an ideal choice for adapting to the specific requirements of various applications and systems.

In addition, the availability of connectivity to mobile phones enables the adoption of a cloud-based business model. This is supported by a lean and scalable mailbox concept that ensures access management to maintain data integrity and security. Application-specific commands and messages from an open protocol interface can extend the protocol layer.

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