NFC Chip

An NFC chip is the integrated circuit within the NFC inlay that makes an NFC tag perform NFC operations. There are several different NFC chip types available; each with its own features, performance, cost and availability. NFC chips do not work by themselves; they must be be attached to an antenna to form an NFC inlay. The ultimate performance of an NFC chip is determined by both the NFC chip, the tuning of the antenna, the product the inlay is in and the device interacting with the NFC tag.

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General Specifications

Most NFC chip types share a common set of specifications; the specific values do vary by chip, but this gives a general range.

  • UID: Manufacturer supplied read-only unique identifier
  • User Memory: Memory to store user data; often NDEF formatted
  • Memory Locking: The ability to lock pages of user memory to make permanently read-only
  • Data Retention: > 10 years; how long the chip will retain the state of it’s memory
  • Read/Write Cycles: > 100,000; The number of times you can read or write to the NFC chip
  • Reading Distance: From 5 cm for Type 2 to 50 cm for Type 5; this is highly dependent on the NFC chip type and the NFC device
  • Operating Frequency: 13.56 MHz (HF RFID)
  • Power: Passive (no battery); power is from the NFC device (phone, reader…) that is interacting with the NFC tag
  • Operating Temperature: -25 C to 70 C; this is just for the chip, the surrounding NFC tag will have a different temperature range

Compatibility

There are many different NFC chip types which adhere to several different NFC standards. Not all NFC devices can work with all NFC chip types; the specifications of the NFC chip must match the specifications of the NFC device. This issue is most prevalent with NFC reader/writers devices; as of the late 2010s most major smartphones can work with all NFC Forum tag types. The primary specification to look for when evaluating compatibility is the ISO (ISO 14443, ISO 15693 or both) and the NFC Forum tag type (Type 1 – Type 5).

Last updated on July 1, 2021. We are continually improving this content; contact us with any suggested changes.