Monash Engineering's chipless tracker could transform barcode industry

20 May 2015

Barcodes on packaged goods could soon be a thing of the past with the rapid expansion of chipless tags, and Monash University researchers are at the forefront of developing this technology.

Monash University Engineering School
Barcodes on packaged goods could soon be a thing of the past

A research team lead by Dr Nemai Karmakar, from the Department of Electrical and Computer Systems Engineering, have long been developing chipless radio frequency identification (RFID) tags that can be printed directly onto products and packaging—including postal items, drugs and books—making it cheaper, smaller and faster than any other tracking system on the market.
Now, the team have developed fully printable tags for metals and liquids including water bottles and soft-drinks cans. Until now, this hasn’t been possible because the metal and liquids interfere with the technology. The tag can be printed with an inkjet printer and can be read when they are attached to reflective surfaces such as metal cans and water bottles.
Dr Karmakar said the team was believed to be the first to develop fully printable chipless RFID tags on paper and plastics, and the technology could revolutionise the multi-billion-dollar RFID market.
“The fact that chipless tags be printed directly onto products and packaging means they are far more reliable, smaller and cost effective than any other barcoding system,” Dr Karmakar said.
“The new chipless RFID technology is a high data capacity mm-wave barcode system that operates at 60 GHz mm-wave signal. This means it is much smaller than any other commercially available chipless RFID tags; however, it can still contain a high amount of data and information.
“The main challenge that we have overcome is to transfer the technology to paper and plastic while retaining the required printing resolution. Uniquely, the 60 GHz mm-wave tag can handle printing errors and surface variations. It’s very promising indeed in its ability to revolutionise the multi-billion-dollar RFID market.”
Dr Karmakar said the chipless RFID tag could also be used in temperature above 80 degrees and cryogenic temperatures.
“Another application could be biomedical samples stored at cryogenic temperatures,” Dr Karmakar said.
The researchers, based in the Monash Microwave, Antenna, RFID and Sensor Laboratory (MMARS) recently received a US$90,000 grant over three years from Xerox to further develop the cutting edge 60 GHz Chipless RFID.
The research has been supported by the Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery and Linkage Projects.

Monash University Department of Electrical and Computer Systems Engineering

The Department of Electrical and Computer Systems Engineering (ECSE) is an extremely diverse department specialising in telecommunications, RFID, biomedical engineering, robotics, sensing, vision, systems-on-a-chip and smart energy systems. These applications are based on fundamental research in electronics, photonics, signal processing, communications theory, artificial intelligence, real-time software, optimization, electromagnetics and numerical modeling.
The ECSE program at Monash University equips students with the skills necessary to succeed in this rapidly changing industry, with graduates going on to make an impact in many areas. The department is at the centre of ECSE research, with Monash researchers working on innovative projects including bionic vision, augmented reality, medical diagnostics, optical communications, wireless communications, sensor systems and high-voltage engineering. This research is creating and supporting high-tech industry.

Would you like to learn more about engineering programs at Monash University? Contact OzTREKK’s Australian Engineering Schools Admissions Officer Rachel Brady at, or call toll free in Canada at 1-866-698-7355.