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In this paper, a review of the authors' work on inkjet-printed flexible antennas, fabricated on paper substrates, is given. This is presented as a system-level solution for ultra-low-cost mass production of UHF radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags and wireless sensor nodes (WSN), in an approach that could be easily extended to other microwave and wireless applications. First, we discuss the benefits of using paper as a substrate for high-frequency applications, reporting its very good electrical/dielectric performance up to at least 1 GHz. The RF characteristics of the paper-based substrate are studied by using a microstrip-ring resonator, in order to characterize the dielectric properties (dielectric constant and loss tangent). We then give details about the inkjet-printing technology, including the characterization of the conductive ink, which consists of nano-silver particles. We highlight the importance of this technology as a fast and simple fabrication technique, especially on flexible organic (e.g., LCP) or paper-based substrates. A compact inkjet-printed UHF ldquopassive RFIDrdquo antenna, using the classic T-match approach and designed to match the IC's complex impedance, is presented as a demonstration prototype for this technology. In addition, we briefly touch upon the state-of-the-art area of fully-integrated wireless sensor modules on paper. We show the first-ever two-dimensional sensor integration with an RFID tag module on paper, as well as the possibility of a three-dimensional multilayer paper-based RF/microwave structure.
Date of Publication: June 2009