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Does UV Light Affect RFID Tags?

Posted By RFID Journal, 09.02.2009
Are radio frequency identification tags affected by ultraviolet (UV) light? We need to know because we want to utilize UV lighting to cure the adhesive used to mount the tags on cardboard.

—Name withheld

An interesting question! I didn't think UV light would affect RFID tags, but I reached out to Victor Vega, an engineer and the director of technical marketing for Alien Technology. Here's Victor's response:

"Early Electrically Programmable Read-Only Memory (EPROM) used to have quartz windows in the center of the packaging to allow one to expose the memory to intense short-wavelength ultraviolet light. Over a period of about 30 minutes, this process would erase all of the memory and allow one to reprogram the contents. This technology was never used with RFID, as it would result in much too large a chip. Today, the industry uses Electrically Erasable Programmable Memory (EEPROM), which enables users to instantaneously and electrically erase memory. IC designs vary, but Alien's Higgs-3 chip has provisions to further block UV exposure with the addition of metal mask layers, so short UV exposures in the label-adhering process would not have an impact on memory. It would not be long enough to erase the memory, even of the old EPROM vintage."

—Mark Roberti, Editor,
RFID Journal

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