I was in a discussion with some engineers recently, and the topic came up that I would like to find out how a passive RFID tag in flight on an aircraft at altitude would be affected by ionizing radiation on the integrated circuit. I had thought that in the past, I had heard the DoD had conducted some testing for the effects of ionizing radiation on passive RFID tags. You wouldn't happen to have any references, would you?
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My understanding has been that the kind of radiation to which an RFID tag is exposed in flight has little impact on its operation, but I reached out to Jon Andresen, the president of aviation and business consulting company Technology Solutions, for some more background. He tells me NASA had looked into this question about 15 years ago, but that there was no definitive answer.
According to Andresen, high enough doses of radiation theoretically could flip a bit of data on a tag, but passive tags used in aviation do not experience enough radiation to make that possible. Additionally, IATA Spec2000 aviation tags are required to have a cycle redundancy check (CRC) embedded so that if any data change were to happen, the CRC would detect and correct it automatically. So the short answer is no, ionizing radiation will not impact an RFID tag IC in flight.
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