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[ EN ]

This PCT application claims the benefit under 35 U.S.C. §1 19(e) of Provisional

Application Serial No. 61/012,588 filed on December 10, 2007, entitled RESONANT TAG WITH REINFORCED REACTIVATION DIMPLE and whose entire disclosure is incorporated by reference herein.
The present invention relates to a resonant circuit used for the prevention of shoplifting or the like, and more particularly, to a resonant circuit having a capacitor formed on a flexible substrate wherein the capacitor is deactivated at a dimpled area by exposure to a predetermined voltage level.
In retail shops, libraries or the like, a surveillance system including a resonant tag that resonates with a radio wave, a transmitting antenna and a receiving antenna has been used for the prevention of shoplifting. In an embodiment, the resonant tag is composed of an insulating film, a coil and a plate made of a conductive metal foil formed on one side of the insulating film, and a plate made of a conductive metal foil formed on the other side, which constitute an LC circuit and resonates with a radio wave at a particular frequency.
If an article with the resonant circuit attached passes through a surveillance area without being disabled at checkout, the resonant circuit resonates with the radio wave from the transmitting antenna, and the receiving antenna detects the resonance and generates an alarm. A typically used resonant frequency is 5 to 15 MHz, because frequencies within the range can be easily distinguished from various noise frequencies. In electronic article surveillance (EAS), a frequency of 8.2 MHz is most popularly used, and in radio frequency identification (RFID), a frequency of 13.56 MHz is most popularly used.
By way of example only, Figs. 1 -3 depict a prior art LC resonant circuit in the form of a tag 10 which includes a coil 11 and a first capacitor plate 12 on one side (Fig. 1 ) of a substrate 13 and a second capacitor plate 14 on the other side of the substrate 13 (Fig. 2). Fig. 3 is a cross-sectional view of this prior art tag showing a typical substrate thickness, t, of approximately 20 microns, which tends to be the thinnest dielectric that can be formed using conventional dielectric forming methods (e.g., extruding polyethylene between the metal layer). Adhesive layers 15 and 17 secure the metal layers to the substrate 13 respectively.
Prior art resonant tags formed as in Figures 1-4 are commonly deactivated, once an article with the resonant tag is purchased, by application of a predetermined voltage to the tag. The tag typically has a thinned part of the dielectric (Fig. 4: 10a, 10b) commonly referred to as a dimple. The dimple provides a shorter distance between the tip of the dimple and the opposing plate, than between the remaining surfaces of the two plates. When a high level of electromagnetic energy is applied to the tag, a voltage in excess of the breakdown voltage can be created between the tip of the dimple and the opposing plate. This causes the dielectric material to break down, thereby substantially short circuiting the two plates to each other. When the capacitor shorts out in the weakened area, its capacitance goes substantially to zero and the resonant frequency of the tag is moved out of the range of frequencies being swept by the detection equipment. Such a dimple for deactivating a resonant tag is disclosed in U.S . PaL No.5, 142,270, entitled "Stabilized Resonant Tag Circuit and Deactivator," issued to Appalucci et al. on JuI. 8, 1992.
One problem with the known methods for deactivating tags is that a tag may spontaneously reactivate at a later time. It is believed that one reason why tags reactivate may be that the short circuit between the plates of the capacitor is formed by fragile dendritic structures created by the breakdown of the dielectric. The structures providing the short circuit between the plates can therefore break at a later time, for example, due to flexing of the tag, and restore the high resistance path between the plates. When this occurs, a security tag that is deactivated after a legitimate purchase can set off an alarm if an innocent bearer of the tag inadvertently brings it into a detection region. This problem commonly occurs when the tag is attached to an article of clothing and not removed by the purchaser before wearing the clothing. Flexure of the tag in normal wear of the clothing and in washing can cause the tag to reactivate due to damage to the dendritic structures.
In resonant tags having polyethylene dielectrics, as many as 50% of the tags become reactivated with wearing or laundering. This unintended reactivation has undesirable consequences for the wearer of the clothing, who will activate security tag detection devices when entering or exiting any store with equipment tuned to the tag's resonant frequency. Not only is the false alarm inconvenient and embarrassing for the person wearing the clothing with the reactivated tag, but frequent false alarms can cause a "boy who cried wolf" effect. Store personnel can become lax about enforcement of tag alarms when many of them are falsely triggered by reactivated tags on legitimately purchased goods. The inconvenience and embarrassment of false alarms may so irritate consumers that sales of clothing brands bearing re-activatable tags are lost.

Thus a need exists for an improved resonant circuit with a capacitor that incorporates a dimple to form a shorted area when the tag is disabled, wherein the shorted area does not later return to its original state, thereby returning the tag to a functioning resonant circuit under physical distortion of the tag or temperature swings.

An object of the present invention is to provide a resonant circuit mainly used in a radio-wave detection system for the prevention of shoplifting or the like that is permanently disabled by application of a predetermined voltage which causes formation of a permanent short in a capacitor located in the circuit.
As a result of earnest study, the inventors have found that the object described above can be attained if a capacitor formed on a flexible substrate and having a dimpled area for disablement of the capacitor when it is exposed to a predetermined voltage has a reinforcing material applied in a region near the dimpled area and where the plates of the capacitor have a geometry that provides a stress relief at the boundary between the reinforced area and the rest of the capacitor.
Briefly, the present invention is as follows. A resonant tag resonates with a radio wave at a predetermined frequency and comprises: an inductor, which can be a coil formed in essentially two dimensions and made of a metal foil or printed with a conductive material, and a capacitor a formed of two plates of metal foil on a dielectric and having a predetermined breakdown voltage, such that once that voltage is exceeded the capacitor is shorted. The capacitor contains a dimpled area where the thickness of the dielectric is more narrow than in the remaining area of the capacitor, this thinned area promotes shorting the capacitor at a lower voltage than where there is no thinned area. The thinned area is reinforced such that when the tag is flexed, the reinforced thinned area does not flex, rather the rest of the tag flexes around the reinforced area so that the short is not disturbed, thus preventing the capacitor from becoming un-shorted and the tag from becoming reactivated.

The invention will be described in conjunction with the following drawings in which like reference numerals designate like elements and wherein:
Fig. 1 is an enlarged plan view of one side of a prior art resonant tag;
Fig. 2 is an enlarged plan view of the other side of the prior art resonant tag of Fig. 1 ;

Fig. 3 is a cross-sectional view of the prior art resonant tag taken along line 3-3 of Fig. 1 ;

Fig. 4 is a cross-sectional view of a narrowed area in a prior art resonant tag;
Fig. 5 is a cross-sectional view of an embodiment of a reinforced narrowed area;
Fig.6 is a cross-sectional view of an embodiment of a reinforced narrowed area with vias through the substrate and reinforcement filling the vias;
Fig. 7 is a cross-sectional view of an embodiment of a reinforced narrowed area with a potting dam to contain the reinforcement material;
Fig. 8 is a plan view of an embodiment of a reinforced narrowed area with a potting dam to contain the reinforcement material;
Fig. 9 is a plan view of an embodiment of a capacitor having a stress relieved area;
Fig. 10 is plan view of a further embodiment of a capacitor having a stress relieved area;

Fig. 11 is plan view of a further embodiment of a capacitor having a stress relieved area;

Fig. 12 is a cross-sectional view of a wire-bonded circuit component reinforced in accordance with an embodiment of the invention; and
Fig. 13 is a cross-sectional view of a flip chip circuit component reinforced in accordance with an embodiment of the invention.

Figure 5 is a cross-sectional view of the dimpled area described above for the prior art tag shown in Figure 4. Figure 5 shows a dielectric substrate 13 to which is attached metal foil layers 12 and 14. The metal foil is attached to the substrate 13 with adhesive layers 15, 17. Together, the metal foil 12, 14 and the dielectric 13 form a capacitor component of an exemplary resonant tag as shown in Figures 1 and 2. An indentation 1OA, 1OB is made in on the top and bottom of the capacitor, thinning the dielectric 13 in this area and bringing the metal foil layers 12, 14 closer together. This point is where a short will form when the resonant tag is exposed to a strong electromagnetic field at the resonant frequency of the tag. Ih an embodiment of the invention, a reinforcing material 20 is attached to the top of the indented area 1OA.

In an exemplary embodiment, the reinforcing material 20 is an epoxy. The epoxy can be applied as a liquid and cured to form a rigid material affixed to and covering the capacitor in the area of the indentation. The epoxy can be cured by known methods such as ambient air drying, exposure to heat or exposure to ultraviolet light. Other reinforcing materials include acrylics, acrylates, cyanoacrylates, urethane-acryalates, polyesters, phenolics, melamines, vinyls, and rubbers.
Because the tag is reinforced in the area of the indentation with the rigid material 20, when the tag is flexed, for example when embedded in clothing being worn, the tag will flex around the rigid area, but the rigid area itself will not flex. This protects the delicate indented area that contains the short and keeps the short from opening and reactivating the tag.
Figure 6 is a cross-sectional view of a further embodiment of reinforcing the indented area. In this embodiment, vias 21 are created through the metal foil and dielectric in the area of the indentation, flowable material such as epoxy is applied to the top and bottom of the indented area so that it also fills the vias. A via is typically a circular hole such as one made with a drill, although channels of any shape that provide a physical path from the top to the bottom surface of the tag can be used. Once the flowable material hardens, it creates a three-dimensional rigid structure that has the effect of clamping the top and bottom layers 12, 14 of the capacitor together and forms a strong reinforcement around the indented area 1OA, 1OB. The two-sided reinforcement with filled vias, shown in Fig. 6 has the additional advantage that the reinforcing caps 20, 22 are held firmly to the substrate not only by adhesion to the foil layers 12, 14 but also by the filled vias 22. This prevents the reinforcing cap 20 from peeling away from the dielectric substrate with the foil layer 12.
In another embodiment, shown in Figures 7 and 8 , the reinforcing cap 20 is formed by applying a barrier 25 to the foil layer and then filling the crater created by the barrier 25 with a flowable material such as an epoxy. A typical thickness for the barrier and the epoxy is .040 inches. A typical diameter for the epoxy cap is between 2.5 and 10 mm.
Figures 9 through 11 show embodiments of means for stress relieving the indented area 1OA. In Figures 9 and 10, the foil pattern 12 of the capacitor plate is broken up by an area 13A-C which has no foil and is only dielectric material. With the central area inside the openings 13 A-C covered with a cap as detailed above, the tag, when flexed, will bend first in the relieved areas 13A-C because they are less thick by not being covered with foil. While Figures 9 and 10 show a typical pattern for the top side of a tag, the same stress relief pattern can be used on the bottom foil layer as well, creating so that the only material in the relieved areas 13A-C is the dielectric layer 13. With reference to Figure 5, exemplary thicknesses are 8-20 um dielectric 13 , 30- 120 um top foil layer and 4um - 20um bottom foil layer Thus, it can be seen that the stress relief areas 13 A-C are significantly thinner and less stiff than the foil-covered areas. This promotes flexing of the tag at the relief areas 13 A-C and removes much of any stress due to flexing from the reinforced indented area 1OA.
Figure 11 shows another embodiment of means for stress relieving the reinforced indented area

1OA. In the embodiment shown, the foil pattern of the capacitor plate 12 includes a peninsula of material 12A that is separated from the majority of the foil by a narrow band 12B. The indented area 1OA is included in this peninsula area and that area is reinforced with a suitable material as described above.

Flexing a tag having a foil pattern as shown in Figure 11 will result in the flex to occur at the most narrow part of the foil, 12B, which will protect the reinforced area 12A from stress that might otherwise damage the reinforcing material.
The stress relief patterns shown in Figures 9-11 are examples only and it is intended that the invention encompass all means of foil patterning that reduce bending stress on the reinforced area containing the indentation.
Reinforcing an indented area in a capacitor made on film dielectric can also be used in embodiments where the capacitor is a separate component of a security tag. Capacitors formed as straps to be applied to a tag are described in United States patent application serial number 11/539,995, which is assigned to Checkpoint Systems. All references cited herein are incorporated by reference.
The reinforcement means described herein are not limited to reinforcing a foil indentation in a capacitor formed on a flexible substrate. Figures 12 and 13 show the reinforcement of circuit components wire-bonded and soldered to conductive foil respectively. Figure 12 shows a component 130 on a tag comprising a flexible substrate 113, electrically conductive foil 112, 114 attached to the substrate 113 with adhesive 115, 117. Vias 145 are made through the substrate and foil material and a flowable material is provided to form a reinforcing cap 140 over the component 130. The flowable material fills the vias 145 and forms small domes 146 under the vias. Once hardened, these domes and the vias, tied to the main reinforcing dome 140 form a protective cap over the component 130 and the wire bonds 120, whereby the cap is also anchored to the underside of the structure by the vias and the small underside domes. This arrangement reinforces the flexible circuit in the area of the component

130 and the top dome 140 and the component 130 are prevented from pulling away from the substrate 113 by the anchoring effect of the vias 145 and the underside domes 146. The circuit component can be a simple passive component, such as a chip capacitor, resistor or inductor, or a semiconductor, such as a diode or a transistor or an integrated circuit.
In a similar fashion a flip chip device 150 that is connected to circuitry through solder bumps 151 can also be reinforced in the manner described for the wire-bonded device on a circuit having a flexible substrate 113 as shown in Figure 13. The circuits shown in Figures 12 and 13 can be resonant tags, RFTD tags, component-carrying straps for application to resonant tags or other flexible circuits for use in other applications.
While the invention has been described in detail and with reference to specific examples thereof, it will be apparent to one skilled in the art that various changes and modifications can be made therein without departing from the spirit and scope thereof.