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Access Type

Campus Access

Document Type


Degree Program

Electrical & Computer Engineering

Degree Type

Master of Science in Electrical and Computer Engineering (M.S.E.C.E.)

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded



RFID, Sensor, EPC Gen2, FPGA, Security


Passively powered radio frequency (RFID) tags are a class of devices powered via harvested ultra high frequency (UHF) radiation emitted by a reader device. Currently, these devices are relegated to little more than a form of wireless barcode, but could be used in a myriad of applications from simple product identification to more complex applications such as environmental sensing. Because these devices are intended for large scale deployment and due to the limited power that can be harvested from RF energy, hardware and cost constraints are extremely tight.

The Electronic Product Code (EPC) Global Class 1 Generation 2 (Gen2) specification [EPC08] is currently the de facto communication standard for passively powered RFID. One issue restricting deployment and a cause for some privacy concerns is a lack of security in the Gen2 protocol. We will demonstrate a potential solution to this problem by using a novel block cipher designed for low power and area constrained devices to encrypt and transmit sensor data. This will be done while maintaining backward compatibility with the original standard and will require no substantial changes to the reader. Our solution will also provide one way authentication, data integrity checking and will provide security against replay attacks.

In this thesis we will demonstrate an FPGA emulation of a Gen2 compatible RFID tag which will serve as a test bed for several novel features. We will leverage prior work involving several aspects of a tag [QL09] [PP07] as well as incorporate a novel low power encryption cipher [AB07] and external temperature sensor. Demonstrated in [CT08], FPGA emulation will allow for the independent verification of several components. This thesis will provide insight into the future of RFID and will provide insight into tag design as well as possible future updates to the Gen2 standard.


First Advisor

Wayne P. Burleson