The authors describe the design, fabrication, and testing of a passive wireless sensor platform utilizing low-cost commercial surface acoustic wave filters and sensors. Polyimide and polyethylene terephthalate sheets are used as substrates to create a flexible sensor tag that can be applied to curved surfaces. A microfabricated antenna is integrated on the substrate in order to create a compact form factor. The sensor tags are fabricated using 315 MHz surface acoustic wave filters and photodiodes and tested with the aid of a fiber-coupled tungsten lamp. Microwave energy transmitted from a network analyzer is used to interrogate the sensor tag. Due to an electrical impedance mismatch at the SAW filter and sensor, energy is reflected at the sensor load and reradiated from the integrated antenna. By selecting sensors that change electrical impedance based on environmental conditions, the sensor state can be inferred through measurement of the reflected energy profile. Testing has shown that a calibrated system utilizing this type of sensor tag can detect distinct light levels wireless and passively. The authors also demonstrate simultaneous operation of two tags with different center passbands that detects light. Ranging tests show that the sensor tags can operate at a distance of at least 3.6 m.
Skinner, Jack L. and Ho, Harvey, "Fabrication methods for creating flexible polymer substrate sensor tags" (2009). Civil Engineering. 6.