Exploring Near Field Communications


“Near Field Communication” (NFC) is a set of wireless standards designed to establish communication between devices at a range of 0-5cm. NFC-enabled chips, known as tags, do not require batteries and are instead powered by induction of magnetic fields. When the magnetic field of one device passes close to another, the contactless energy transfer allows small amounts of data to be transferred between the tags. NFC chips are most frequently included in smartphones, enabling a plethora of use cases. Prominent utilizations include NFC-enabled boarding passes, event tickets, contact information sharing, and social media (i.e. tweeting, Foursquare checkins).

One significant limitation of NFC is its inability to function in close proximity to a metallic surface or other ground plane, which disrupts the magnetic signal. We will attempt to counteract this disruption by using different permeable materials to separate the NFC tag from a metallic surface. We hope to amplify or intensify the magnetic field utilized by NFC devices and potentially increase the range at which data transfers are possible by testing different casings and structures of permeable metals.


NFC tags of varied sizes, embedded in stickers
Thin metal sheeting (iron, steel, electrical steel, permalloy, cobalt-iron, mu-metal)


9/19 – Inquire about materials from physics department
9/23 – Trip to the hardware store to find materials / testing
9/25 – Testing / data collection
9/30 – Testing / data collection
10/2 – Final data collection, collect and summarize results
10/7 – Write conclusion
10/9 – Any leftover work


An average range of transfers between NFC tags without any metal backing will be established. Inoperability of data transfers when on a metallic surface will be tested and verified. Permeable materials to separate the NFC tag from a metal backing will then be introduced one at a time, and the average range of successful transfers will be recorded. Next, attempts to amplify or direct unadulterated (normal) transmissions with a housing or casing of highly permeable material will be made; the effectiveness of such housing, measured in range, will be noted.


A surface of highly permeable metal placed between a grounding metallic surface and an NFC chip will increase the effectiveness (range) of data transfers. Metals more permeable by electromagnetic waves will allow for greater effectiveness.


We plan to share responsibilities other than the provision of a car, which falls to Toby.

1 thought on “Exploring Near Field Communications

  1. Avatar photoJenny Magnes

    I am curious about you using the term ‘energy transfer.’ Is only information being transferred or is this device powering an adjacent device? What brand NFC chips are you using? Giving a vendor is useful for other people, who want to reproduce your results. Are NFC chips also used as anti-theft devices? If so, could they be disabled with a metallic surface? Be sure to enable comments on your posts.

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