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3M is developing nonsilicon radio-frequency identification chips that could be cheaply integrated into shampoo bottles, soup cans, and other products.

Incorporating radio frequency identification (RFID) chips into shampoo bottles, soup cans, and other products would allow suppliers and retailers to better identify and track goods. A research group led by Paul Baude at 3M in St. Paul, MN, is developing RFID chips that could be cheaper alternatives to those made from silicon, which cost around 20 cents each. The key: using pentacene as the chips’ semiconducting material. Existing prototypes of the chips are built on glass or plastic surfaces; the glass versions can communicate with a reading device several centimeters away. The 3M researchers are working on increasing that distance and getting the plastic version to communicate with the reader as well.

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