Inductive Wireless Power Transfer for RFID & Embedded Devices: Coil Misalignment Analysis and Design
Radio frequency inductive coupling is extensively employed for wireless powering of embedded devices such as low power passive near-field RFID systems and implanted sensors. The efficiency of low power inductive links is typically less than 1%and is characterised by very unfavourable coupling conditions, which can vary significantly due to coil position and geometry. Although, a considerable volume of knowledge is available on this topic, most of the existing research is focused on the circuital modeling of the transformer action between the external and implanted coils. The practical issues of coil misalignment and orientation and their implications on transmission characteristics of RF links have been overlooked by researchers. The aim of this work is to present a novel analytical model for near-field inductive power transfer incorporating misalignment of the RF coil system. In this thesis the influence of coil orientation, position and geometry on the link efficiency is studied by approaching the problem from an electromagnetic perspective. In implanted devices some degree of misalignment is inevitable between external and implanted coils due to anatomical requirements. First two types of realistic misalignments are studied; a lateral displacement of the coils and an angular misalignment described as a tilt of the receiver coil. A loosely coupled system approximation is adopted since, for the coil dimensions and orientations envisaged, the mutual inductance between the transmitter and receiver coils can be neglected. Following this, formulae are derived for the magnetic field at the implanted coil when it is laterally and angularly misaligned from the external coil and a new power transfer function presented. The magnetic field solution is carried out for a number of practical antenna coil geometries currently popular in RFID and biomedical domains, such as planar and printed square, and circular spirals as well as conventional air-cored and ferromagnetic solenoids. In the second phase of this thesis, the results from the electromagnetic modeling are embodied in a near-field loosely coupled equivalent circuit for the inductive link. This allows us to introduce a power transfer formula incorporating for the first time coil characteristics and misalignment factors. This novel power transfer function allows a comparison between different coil structures such as short solenoids, with air or ferromagnetic core, planar and printed spirals with respect to power delivered at the receiver and its relative position to the transmitter. In the final stage of this work, the experimental verification of the model shows close agreement with the theoretical predictions. Using this analysis a formal design procedure is suggested that can be applied on a larger scale compared to existing methods. The main advantage of this technique is that it can be applied to a wide range of implementations without the limitations imposed by numerical modeling and existing circuital methods. Consequently, the designer has the flexibility to identify the optimum coil geometry for maximum power transfer and misalignment tolerance that suit the specifications of the application considered. This thesis concludes by suggesting a new optimisation technique for maximum power transfer with respect to read range, coil orientation, geometry and operating frequency. Finally, the limitations of this model are reiterated and possible future development of this research is discussed.