ST releases NFC reader chip with active waveshaping and heartbeat detection

Person making contactless NFC payment with smartphone
ST25R3916B: The chip supports the creation of smaller and more efficient contactless payment solutions

PARTNER NEWS: STMicroelectronics has released an NFC chip that supports active waveshaping and heartbeat detection, enabling developers and manufacturers to create smaller and more efficient contactless payment solutions and ensure devices comply with EMVCo 3.1 specifications.

The ST25R3916B chip’s heartbeat detection functionality “helps a reader identify whether it is interacting with a card or a smartphone. This is particularly useful in wireless chargers,” ST explains.

“Indeed, a Qi charger can potentially destroy regular NFC cards if it mistakes them for a phone and tries to send a charge.

“Thanks to the heartbeat technology patented by ST, the reader can rapidly distinguish between the two by more precisely analysing behaviours after communication ends.”

The ST25R3916B’s active waveshaping capabilities also provide finer settings to tune the signal and “adjusts the signal to match PICC (Proximity Integrated Circuit Cards) references by limiting undershoots, thus enabling a faster and more efficient coupling of the reader and the card,” ST adds.

“EMVCo standards have had stricter undershoot requirements over the years, making active waveshaping even more critical. Consequently, fine-tuning the antenna becomes more complex and sensitive as poor performance can prevent a product from receiving certifications.

“ST developed a graphical user interface to optimise workflows to help teams visually select registers that shape the signal and manage the undershoot and overshoot patterns. 

“In a nutshell, when connecting the ST25R3916B to an oscilloscope, the GUI shows a wave pattern to help teams more quickly adjust their signal while monitoring the outcome. Thanks to finer settings, the whole process is faster, only taking minutes.

“The ST tool thus lowers the barrier to entry to help engineers get started and reduce friction in the early prototyping stages. The software is available upon request.”

ST is simultaneously releasing a ST25R3916B-EMVCo reference design that incorporates the ST25R3916 chip and “greatly facilitates the creation of the contactless system of a payment terminal by offering a hardware layout and a code example for an EMVCo 3.1 level stack”.

Readers can find more information about the ST25R3916B, the ST25R3916B-EMVCo reference design and how they help developers meet EMVCo 3.1 requirements on ST’s website here.