Gamma-Resistant FRAM RFID Chips Enable Cradle-to-Grave Tracking of Medical Devices

Japan’s Fujitsu Semiconductor Ltd has developed a radiation-resistant radio-frequency identification (RFID) chip with full traceability. When exposed even to small doses of gamma radiation, the memory of conventional RFID tags with E2PROM or Flash is completely erased or corrupted. By contrast, Fujitsu’sFerVID family of products with ferroelectric random access memory (FRAM) can withstand up to 50 kGy of radiation, more than twice the industry standard.


FRAM is a type of memory that uses ferroelectric thin film as a capacitor for storing data, which is not lost when power is shut down. It is a high-performance, low-power technology that combines the benefits of nonvolatile memories (E2PROM and Flash) with high-speed RAM (SRAM and DRAM). Compared to other nonvolatile memories, key advantages of FRAM include a fast read/write speed, low power consumption and high endurance (10 billion read/write cycles). This tamper-resistant, secure memory is not affected by magnetic fields. Most importantly for medical and pharmaceutical applications, FRAM is radiation-resistant. FRAM’s properties combined with the tracking capabilities of RFID simplify the tracking process for medical devices and help to ensure their safety.

“If you embed the FRAM RFID tag in medical bags, filters, surgical instruments, syringes, tubes, or other single-use products at the time of manufacture, you can track and manage the devices over their entire lifecycle from manufacturing to sterilisation, shipping, receiving, storage, use and disposal,” says Junichi Teramae of Fujitsu Semiconductor’s Solution Engineering department. “The data stored in this tag can be shared with electronic medical records at hospitals, if NFC smart phones or tablet terminals are used as an RFID reader,” he adds.

The FerVID family of products, with the combination of high-impact thermoplastic materials, has also found success in medical products that undergo autoclave sterilisation. Last year, Fujitsu supplied FerVID family products to Japan’s second-largest printing company, Toppan Printing Co., which makes tags for use with disposable gauze, surgical tools, sterilisation containers and other medical products. The new RFID tags, which are fabricated from Radel polyphenylsulphone resins formulated by Solvay Specialty Polymers in the United States, withstand the high temperatures, pressure and humidity produced by the autoclave process.

Fujitsu’s FerVID family offers HF and UHF FRAM RFID products. The ISO 15693–compliant devices cover the 13.56-MHz operating frequency and feature 2-kByte and 256-Byte memories, respectively. In the 860 to 960 MHz UHF band, Fujitsu offers 4-kByte and 64-kByte FRAM devices, compliant with the EPC global C1G2 standard. In addition to standard ISO commands, the products feature anticollision capabilities and custom fast read/write transmission commands.


Miki Anzai