Touchscreen tags based on thin-film electronics for the Internet of Everything

Abstract

Capacitive touchscreens are increasingly widespread, featuring in mobile phones and tablets, as well as everyday objects such as cars and home appliances. As a result, the interfaces are uniquely placed to provide a means of communication in the era of the Internet of Everything. Here, we show that commercial touchscreens can be used as reader interfaces for capacitive coupled data transfer. The transfer of data to the touchscreen is achieved using a 12 bit thin-film capacitive radio-frequency identification tag powered by a thin-film battery or a thin-film photovoltaic cell that converts light from the screen. The thin-film integrated circuit has a 0.8 cm2 on-chip monolithic antenna, employs 439 transistors and dissipates only 31 nW of power at a supply voltage of 600 mV. The chip has an asynchronous data rate of up to 36 bps, which is limited by the touchscreen readout electronics.

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Fig. 1: Self-aligned metal–oxide TFT technology.
Fig. 2: Stack and characterization data of the perovskite solar cells.
Fig. 3: High-level C-touch system block diagrams.
Fig. 4: Technical data of the circuit blocks of the C-touch tag.
Fig. 5: Photographs of a flexible touchscreen tag connected to a flexible battery on an iPhone touchscreen.
Fig. 6: Extracted location data from experiments with the C-touch tag performed with various phones.

Data availability

The data that support the plots within this paper and other findings of this study are available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request.

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Acknowledgements

We thank the process engineers of Holst Centre’s GEN1 Pilot Line for fabricating the circuits presented in this paper. This work received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreements 732389 (CAPID project) and 716426 (FLICs project). Part of this work is financed through the Flexlines project within the Interreg V-programme Flanders, The Netherlands, a cross-border cooperation programme with financial support from the European Regional Development Fund, and co-financed by the Province of Noord-Brabant, The Netherlands. W.Q. acknowledges financial support from a postdoctoral researcher grant (12Z4618N) from Research Foundation Flanders (FWO), Belgium.

Author information

N.P. and K.M. conceived, conducted and analysed the experiment(s). M.A. conceived experiments. R.G. and W.Q. conducted the TFPV analysis and fabrication. F.D. developed the apps. S.S., M.W. A.J.K and J.-L.v.d.S. conducted the fabrication. M.D. and A.M. conceived the applications. All authors reviewed the manuscript.

Correspondence to Kris Myny.

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Papadopoulos, N., Qiu, W., Ameys, M. et al. Touchscreen tags based on thin-film electronics for the Internet of Everything. Nat Electron 2, 606–611 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41928-019-0333-z

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