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Hitachi Develops World's Smallest RFID Chip

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The Japanese giant Hitachi has developed the world’s smallest and thinnest Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) chip. Measuring only 0.15 x 0.15 millimeters in size and 7.5 micrometers thick, the wireless chip is a smaller version of the previous record holder – Hitachi’s 0.4 x 0.4 mm “Micro-Chip”. The company used semiconductor miniaturization and electron beam technology to write data on the chip substrates to achieve this decrease in size. The new chips have a wide range of potential applications from military to transportation, logistics and even consumer electronics.

Nicknamed “Powder” or “Dust”, these chips consist of 128-bit ROM (Read Only Memory) that can store a 38-digit number. Hitachi says the distance between each circuit element was reduced using the Silicon-on-Insulator (SOI) process, where an insulation layer and a monocrystalline silicon layer are formed upon the silicon base substrate, and the transistor is then formed on this SOI substrate.

When compared to the conventional process where a transistor is formed directly upon the silicon substrate, this technology significantly reduces parasitic capacitance and current leakage, improving the transistor’s performance. The SOI process also prevents the interference between neighboring devices, which often causes product malfunctions. Thanks to an insulator surrounding each device, Hitachi experts say that even when the devices are in close proximity, higher integration is achieved on an even smaller area.

The surface area of the new chips was reduced to a quarter of the original 0.3 x 0.3 mm, 60µm-thick chip developed by Hitachi in 2003.
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