Advances in Wirelessly Powered Backscatter Communications: From Antenna/RF Circuitry Design to Printed Flexible Electronics

Chaoyun Song, Yuan Ding, Aline Eid, Jimmy G. D. Hester, Xuanke He, Ryan Bahr, Apostolos Georgiadis, George Goussetis, Manos M. Tentzeris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Citations (Scopus)
267 Downloads (Pure)


Backscatter communication is an emerging paradigm for pervasive connectivity of low-power communication devices. Wirelessly powered backscattering wireless sensor networks (WSNs) become particularly important to meet the upcoming era of the Internet of Things (IoT), which requires the massive deployment of self-sustainable and maintenance-free low-cost sensing and communication devices. This article will introduce the state-of-the-art antenna design and radio frequency (RF) system integration for wirelessly powered backscatter communications, covering both the node and the base unit. We capture the latest development in ultralow-power RF front ends and coding schemes for μ W-level backscatter modulators, as well as the latest progress in wireless power transfer (WPT) and energy harvesting (EH) techniques. Newly emerged rectenna system, waveform design, and channel optimization are reviewed in light of the opportunities for adaptively optimizing the WPT/EH efficiency for low-power signals with varying conditions. In addition, advanced device packaging and integration technologies in, e.g., additively manufactured RF components and modules for microwave and millimeter-wave ubiquitous sensing and backscattering energy-autonomous RF structures are reported. Inkjet printing for the sustainable and ultralow-cost fabrication of flexible RF devices and sensors will be reviewed to provide a prospective insight into the future packaging of backscatter communications from the chip-level design to complete system integration. Finally, this article will also address the challenges in fully wireless powered backscatter radio networks and discuss the future directions of backscatter communication in terms of 'Green IoT' and 'Low Carbon' smart home, smart city, smart skin, and machine-to-machine (M2M) applications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)171-192
Number of pages22
JournalProceedings of the IEEE
Issue number1
Early online date15 Nov 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022


  • Additive manufacturing
  • Internet of Things (IoT)
  • backscatter communication
  • energy harvesting (EH)
  • flexible electronics
  • wireless power transfer (WPT)
  • wireless sensor network (WSN)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Computer Science
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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