QAM Backscatter for Low Power RFID Data Transfer

Faculty Sponsor

Stewart Thomas




Electrical and Computer Engineering

ORCID Identifier(s)


Presentation Type

Poster Presentation

Symposium Date

Summer 7-28-2016


The goal of this project is to transmit large amounts of data passively (without the need of a battery) using low-power quadrature amplitude modulation (QAM) backscatter communication. This is the first example of a single-chip QAM backscatter communication system to date. To control data flow, a programmable microcontroller interfaces the radio frequency identification (RFID) tag. Two methods for data reception were implemented: reading data through an oscilloscope capture and reading data from a programmable software defined radio (SDR). The SDR offers greater flexibility than the oscilloscope but requires a steep initial learning curve. The chip was initially tested in a wired configuration and showed that an impedance matching network needed to be implemented to improve the signal to noise ratio (SNR). Future work on this project includes improving received SNR, running fully-passive over the air tests, and ultimately battery-free streaming video.

Biographical Information about Author(s)

John White is a Senior at Valparaiso University where he studies Electrical Engineering. He is the President of the student chapter of IEEE and the head coach of the Valpo Robotics Football Team on campus. He also worked on SatNOGs satellite rotator project by helping 3-D print parts and coding motor controllers. Interests include coding and RFID power.

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