Expansion board provides hardware-software for NFC

Technology from ams that enables reliable NFC coupling in space-constrained devices, has been implemented in a system development board compatible with the STM32 family of microcontrollers from STMicroelectronics.

The boostedNFC technology is in the NFC expansion board released by ST, which plugs into Nucleo STM32 main boards to provide a complete design blueprint for implementing NFC in applications such as IoT nodes. Here, NFC can be used for configuration and network commissioning, and wearable devices, in which it may securely carry data for contactless payments, ticketing or access control.

The expansion board is supplied with a full suite of NFC firmware provided by ST for its family of ARM Cortex-M based STM32 microcontrollers. Besides the AS39230 boostedNFC AFE, there is the ST54E SiP, incorporating the ST21NFCC controller and the ST33G1M2 Secure Element. Other expansion boards implement fingerprint recognition, Bluetooth connectivity, M2M communications and a display, to enable rapid prototyping of a complete NFC-enabled end product, says the company.

Depending on application requirements, the board can be connected to various antenna sizes, ranging from 400mm² supporting NFC reader/writer functionality down to SMD antennas for card emulation-only functionality.

The board’s circuit provides NFC performance in conditions hostile to RF signals, for instance when operating close to or inside metal surfaces, or when transmitting through a very small antenna. Designers of IoT nodes and wearables, for instance, often have to enclose devices in metal housings, or accommodate an antenna inside an extremely small enclosure. The expansion board provides a readymade NFC implementation that will achieve fast, reliable coupling with any standard NFC reader, such as smartphones, contactless payment terminals, transit system entry barriers and access control card readers.

The board’s active load modulation method boosts the NFC signal implemented in the AS39230. This produces an operating volume 10 times larger than the passive load modulation method used in smartcards, says the company. At the same time, the AS39230-based system draws as little as 15µA average current in listening mode, thus draining far less power from the battery than conventional NFC solutions.

The secure NFC expansion board is available now from STMicroelectronics.

The AS39230 NFC AFE is available now in production volumes.


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