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Tego Introduces Radiation-Resistant EPC Tag

The Radion, capable of withstanding high levels of X-ray and gamma radiation, will be available in a variety of form factors, for use in the health-care, food, aerospace and defense industries.
By Claire Swedberg
Apr 06, 2011RFID chip manufacturer Tego has released an EPC Gen 2 ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) tag that can withstand exposure to high levels of X-ray and gamma radiation, as well as other types of electromagnetic radiation, such as that found in the nuclear energy and defense sectors.

Most passive UHF tags that are exposed to high levels of gamma or X-ray radiation can suffer damage to their data, Tego reports. As such, the tags are not useable in applications that employ radiation for processes such as sanitization, as with medical implants, surgical kits, food containers and some defense industry applications in which radiation may be utilized. Tego has been developing a high-memory tag resistant to gamma rays for several years. It provided a 32-kilobyte gamma-resistant EPC Gen 2 (ISO-18000-6C) chip that was used by RCD Technology in its Sentry Tag for the aerospace industry. RCD continues to market the Sentry Tag, though it has not yet been used by a customer.

However, says Timothy Butler, Tego's president and CEO, the chip company is now offering a tag made with a lower-memory version of its 32-kilobyte chip, as a more immediate path to getting the tag onto the market. The tag, known as Radion, with 1.5 kilobits of memory, was developed to provide high-memory tags for tracking flyable aircraft parts.

Tego expects that the Radion's 1.5 kilobits of EPC and user memory will be a boon to supply chain, asset-management and logistics applications, as well as maintenance tracking. With the Radion tag, the company reports, users will be able to read and write tag data on the spot, without relying on back-end data systems, thereby significantly reducing the time and cost required for decision-making with assets and applications. One example cited by the company is the ability to view maintenance logs, configurations or other historical data at the point of read—a key benefit of Tego's extended-memory products.

The Radion tag is not susceptible to memory loss in the presence of radiation, as standard tags are, in part due to the way in which the memory is designed. "We optimized ours," Butler says. Standard tags have nonvolatile memory, but are still at risk of being destroyed or altered by radiation. That means both functionality—the ability to be read, and to be read accurately—and the memory on the tag itself are at risk, explains Bob Hamlin, Tego's CTO.

With the Radion tag, Hamlin says, the difference is in the circuit design, and in the firmware. By using a mechanical storage method, the data is less susceptible to damage in the presence of radiation, because the mechanical structure of the data storage can not be destroyed. Unlike all other EPC Gen 2 tags on the market, however, each unit of memory on the company's TegoChip is write-once—though, Hamlin notes, users could encode data to the tag 100 times or more without reaching the memory's limit. Therefore, he says, from a user's point of view, the memory functions in the same manner that re-writeable memory does. The Radion tag, Butler says, has a read range of 1.5 meters to 3 meters (4.9 feet to 9.8 feet), depending on the physical environment. The price will be similar to that of other high-memory tags, he adds—$3 to $5 apiece in high volumes, and $7 to $9 in low volumes.

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