Tunneling Tag


This project aimed at advancing wireless sensing with backscattering technology (e.g.: RFID) by developing the Tunneling RFID Tag. Although already commercially available and widely used in several applications, wireless sensors still require a significant amount of power to operate and are still limited in range. The Tunneling Tag demonstrated that a long-range (> 650 meters) and low-powered (< 45 uW) backscattering link at 5.8 GHz is possible by exploiting the quantum tunneling effect of tunnel diodes. The Tunneling Tag achieved return gains as high as 35 dB with link sensitivity as low as −81 dBm.

Dr. Francesco Amato and Dr. Hakki Torun at the Georgia Institute of Technology – Backscattering Test at 160 meters. Nov. 2016.

Without relevant increase in power consumption, the tunneling tag enables a host of new wireless sensors and Internet of Things applications that require both the long range of conventional wireless links and the low power consumption of semi-passive RFID devices. Selected measurements demonstrate a reader-to-tag separation distance 10 times higher than the maximum range of ideal semi-passive tags. Moreover, the collected experimental results allowed to outline a mathematical model demonstrating how the long-range RFID tag prototype can achieve distances unusual for this


Design Material

Tunneling Reflector load for the Tunneling Tag – Gerber file available upon request.

Experimental data from measurement campaign at Georgia Tech Campus and Midtown Atlanta – GitHub repository

Published Work

F. Amato, “Achieving hundreds-meter ranges in low powered RFID systems with quantum tunneling tags“, Georgia Tech Library, 2017, Full text

F. Amato, H. M. Torun, and G. Durgin, “RFID Backscattering in Long-Range Scenarios”, IEEE Transactions on Wireless Communications, 2018, DOI: 10.1109/TWC.2018.2801803.

F. Amato and G. D. Durgin, “Tunnel Diodes for Backscattering Communications,” 2nd URSI Atlantic Radio Science Meeting (AT-RASC), 2018, DOI: 10.23919/URSI-AT-RASC.2018.8471622.

F. Amato, C. W. Peterson, B. P. Degnan, and D. G. Durgin, “Tunneling RFID Tags for Long-Range and Low-Power Microwave Applications”, IEEE Journal of Radio Frequency Identification, 2018, DOI: 10.1109/JRFID.2018.2852498.

F. Amato, and D. G. Durgin, “The Resurrection of the Esaki Diode: Tunneling Becomes Cool Again”; IEEE Virtual Journal on RFID, 2017, DOI: 10.1109/RFIDVJ.2017.0000013.

F. Amato, H. M. Torun and G. D. Durgin, “Beyond the limits of classic backscattering communications: A quantum tunneling RFID tag,” IEEE International Conference on RFID (RFID), 2017, DOI: 10.1109/RFID.2017.7945581.

F. Amato and G. D. Durgin, “Signal-to-noise ratio measurements for IoT communications with quantum tunneling reflectors,” , IEEE 3rd World Forum on Internet of Things (WF-IoT), 2016, DOI: 10.1109/WF-IoT.2016.7845420.

Amato F., Peterson C. W., Akbar M. B., and Durgin G.D., “Long range and low powered RFID tags with tunnel diode“, IEEE International Conference on RFID-Technologies and Applications (RFID-TA), 2015, DOI: 10.1109/RFID-TA.2015.7379815.

F. Amato, C. W. Peterson, B. P. Degnan and G. D. Durgin, “A 45 μW bias power, 34 dB gain reflection amplifier exploiting the tunneling effect for RFID applications,” IEEE International Conference on RFID (RFID), 2015, DOI: 10.1109/RFID.2015.7113084.