(19)
(11)EP 3 687 076 A1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT APPLICATION

(43)Date of publication:
29.07.2020 Bulletin 2020/31

(21)Application number: 19153981.6

(22)Date of filing:  28.01.2019
(51)International Patent Classification (IPC): 
H04B 5/00(2006.01)
(84)Designated Contracting States:
AL AT BE BG CH CY CZ DE DK EE ES FI FR GB GR HR HU IE IS IT LI LT LU LV MC MK MT NL NO PL PT RO RS SE SI SK SM TR
Designated Extension States:
BA ME
Designated Validation States:
KH MA MD TN

(71)Applicant: STMicroelectronics Austria GmbH
8020 Graz (AT)

(72)Inventors:
  • POETSCHER, Thomas
    8121 DEUTSCHFEISTRITZ (AT)
  • GUGGANIG, Michael
    8411 LAMBERG (AT)

(74)Representative: Casalonga 
Casalonga & Partners Bayerstraße 71/73
80335 München
80335 München (DE)

  


(54)METHOD OF MANAGING AN OUTPUT POWER DELIVERED BY AN ANTENNA OF A NFC APPARATUS AND NFC APPARATUS


(57) The antenna of the NFC apparatus is coupled to a NFC controller by a matching circuit. Said method comprises providing said matching circuit with a first tuning capacitive network connected in series between the NFC controller and the antenna and with a second tuning capacitive network coupled on one hand to the NFC controller and the antenna and on another hand to a reference terminal, at least one of both tuning capacitive networks having a variable capacitive value. The method further comprise determining (301) at least partially by software, tuning capacitive values (TCs, TCp) of the first and second tuning networks (120s, 120p) permitting to adjust the delivered output power at a desired level and setting (303) the capacitive values of first and second tuning capacitive networks (120s, 120p) to said tuning capacitive values.




Description


[0001] Embodiments of the invention relate to wireless communication between apparatuses, for example between a reader and a transponder, in particular between a Near Field Communication (NFC) contactless reader and a tag, for example a contactless IC card or a wireless apparatus emulated in card mode, such as a mobile phone or a phablet emulated in card mode, or a dynamic tag (i.e. a tag connected to a microprocessor within a connected device), using typically a high frequency communication operating at 13,56 MHz.

[0002] Embodiments of the invention relate more particularly to the management of the output power delivered by the antenna of an NFC apparatus, for example a NFC reader, in particular when the reader antenna may be detuned by environmental effects and/or by the tag itself.

[0003] The NFC reader may be a reader as such or for example a mobile phone emulated in a reader mode.

[0004] As a matter of fact, further to its conventional telephone function, a mobile phone may be used for exchanging information with a contactless device by using a contactless communication protocol.

[0005] In some applications the mobile phone may be emulated in a card mode. In such a case it operates as a card or a transponder (passive or active) and may be read by a contactless reader.

[0006] In some other applications the mobile phone may be emulated in a reader mode. In such a case it operates as a reader and may cooperate with a contactless tag.

[0007] Near Field Communication or NFC is a short range high frequency wireless communication technology which enables such exchange of data between two contactless devices over a short distance, for example 10 centimetres.

[0008] NFC is an open platform technology standardized in ISO/IEC 18092 and ISO/IEC 21481 but incorporates a variety of pre-existing standards including ISO/IEC 14443 protocol type A and type B.

[0009] NFC readers have the capability to support, in particular, a reader/writer mode which can be used to read and write NFC transponders or tags.

[0010] Non-contact components, such as NFC controllers, are typically connected to the antenna via an impedance matching circuit for the purpose of optimizing radio frequency communication.

[0011] Generally the impedance matching circuit incorporates a filter for filtering electromagnetic interference and commonly designated by those skilled in the art under the acronym Anglosaxon filter "EMI" (ElectroMagnetic Interference), as well as serial and parallel matching capacitors.

[0012] More precisely, this external EMI filter, which is generally a capacitive inductive filter (LC filter), makes it possible to reduce as much as possible the high harmonic emissions of the transmission signal, typically at 13.56 MHz.

[0013] And, these external components used in this impedance matching circuit for example inductive elements and capacitors, must be very well dimensioned, so as to allow good frequency matching of the antenna, for example on a carrier frequency, (eg 13.56 MHz), and thus ensure the maximum performance.

[0014] In general there are differences between the theoretical values of these external components and the antenna and the actual values thereof when actually made and physically connected to the NFC component. This is due in particular to the technological dispersions of the external components and the antenna used which can be all the more important as the external components, in particular, are of lesser quality.

[0015] This then results in a frequency detuning of the antenna.

[0016] This frequency detuning of the antenna can also be caused by the magnetic coupling with the antenna of another NFC object, for example a NFC tag.

[0017] State of the art solution consists in shielding the antenna against detuning and/or using matching components with low tolerances.

[0018] However, such solutions are not satisfactory.

[0019] According to an embodiment, it is proposed a solution which permits to adjust the output power and thus the power consumption of an NFC apparatus (for example a NFC reader) to a desired target.

[0020] It is also proposed that even when suffering from detuning, the matching can be adjusted in a way that compliants to a standard, in particular a standard of the NFC platform, is given and the best output power can be delivered.

[0021] Thus, for example, a reader could switch between high and low output power depending on current needs.

[0022] According to an embodiment, it is thus proposed to use a two-dimensional antenna tuning (i.e. a tuning using parallel and series variable capacitors) controlled by an algorithm.

[0023] This enables to adjust in particular the resonance frequency of the antenna as well to adjust the matching impedance at resonance frequency, and thus to adjust in particular the output power delivered by the NFC reader.

[0024] According to an aspect, it is thus proposed a method of managing an output power delivered by an antenna of a NFC apparatus, in particular a NFC reader.

[0025] Said antenna is coupled to a NFC controller by a matching circuit.

[0026] Said method comprises providing said matching circuit with a first tuning capacitive network connected in series between the NFC controller and the antenna and with a second tuning capacitive network coupled on one hand to the NFC controller and the antenna and on another hand to a reference terminal, for example a terminal intended to be connected to ground.

[0027] At least one of both tuning capacitive networks has a variable capacitive value.

[0028] Said method comprises also
determining at least partially by software, tuning capacitive value of the first and second tuning networks permitting to adjust the delivered output power at a desired level, and
setting the capacitive value of the first and second tuning capacitive network to said tuning capacitive values.

[0029] The first tuning capacitive network may be considered as being so called "serial capacitors" while the second tuning capacitive network may be considered as being so called "parallel capacitors".

[0030] At least one of the first and second tuning capacitive networks is a variable capacitive network.

[0031] That means that the other capacitive network may be fixed.

[0032] However, in order to cover more situations, it is preferable that both tuning capacitive networks have a variable capacitive value.

[0033] According to an embodiment, said at least one of both tuning capacitive networks is a tuning capacitive networks having a set of selectable capacitive values.

[0034] Practically, such set of selectable capacitive values may be obtained for example by a set of switched capacitors having those selectable capacitive values or by one or more tunable capacitors, controlled by a control signal issued for example from a digital control word.

[0035] When both tuning capacitive networks have a variable capacitive value, the first tuning capacitive network may have a first set of selectable capacitive values while the second capacitive tuning network may have a second set of selectable capacitive values.

[0036] Providing two tuning capacitive networks as defined above, at least one of them having a variable capacitive value, permits to use a two-dimensional antenna tuning controlled by an algorithm.

[0037] This enables in particular to adjust the resonance frequency of the antenna as well to adjust the matching impedance at resonance frequency. This permits also to adjust the output power delivered by the NFC apparatus, and accordingly the power consumption, at a desired level.

[0038] And even when suffering from detuning, the matching can be adjusted in a way that compliants to a standard is given and the best output power can be delivered.

[0039] In other words, the two-dimensional dynamically adjustment of the matching circuit permits to dynamically adjust the matching impedance and thus the output power can be freely chosen and measured within a certain limit.

[0040] And, if the reader is suffering from detuning, counter measures are possible to work against these effects.

[0041] According to an embodiment, determining said tuning capacitive values of the first and second tuning networks comprises executing a search algorithm, said search algorithm using measurements for at least several capacitive values of the capacitive networks, of respective sets of parameters including a respective voltage at antenna, a respective current delivered in the matching circuit by the NFC controller and a respective phase between the current delivered by the NFC controller and the current received by the NFC controller.

[0042] Said search algorithm advantageously selects said tuning capacitive values of the first and second tuning capacitive network on the basis of those of sets of measured parameters and a set of corresponding target parameters.

[0043] In other words, determining the tuning capacitive values, use evaluation of three parameters V, I, P (Voltage/Current/Phase).

[0044] And, evaluation of those three parameters can be seen for example as an extremum search in three two-dimensional arrays.

[0045] Thus, according to an embodiment, selecting said tuning capacitive values of the first and second tuning capacitive networks comprises determining a minimum of a weighting function of said measured and corresponding target parameters.

[0046] More precisely, according to an embodiment, selecting said tuning capacitive values comprises
calculating for each pair of selectable values respectively belonging to the first and second tuning capacitive networks and designated by said search algorithm, a value of said weighting function, and
selecting as said tuning capacitive values, the pair of selectable values corresponding to the minimum value of said weighting function.

[0047] In other words, the search algorithm starts from a starting point having two respective capacitive values of the first and second tuning capacitive networks. And, depending of the type of search algorithm, the search algorithm browse the points of the two capacitive networks in a certain manner until finding the best point, i.e. the point for which the weighting function is minimum.

[0048] And, said search algorithm may be advantageously selected among a set of reference search algorithms.

[0049] The selection of the search algorithm depends in particular on the environmental conditions and/or a trade-off between execution time and accuracy for example.

[0050] And, by using an appropriate search algorithm it is possible to minimize the number of measurements.

[0051] For best performance it is preferable to repeat the execution of the search algorithm whenever the environmental of the apparatus and/or the VIP parameters inputs change.

[0052] For example, the search algorithm may be executed before every communication session between the NFC apparatus and another NFC apparatus.

[0053] According to another aspect, it is proposed an NFC apparatus, comprising
an antenna coupled to a NFC controller by a matching circuit,
said matching circuit including a first tuning capacitive network connected in series between the NFC controller and the antenna and a second tuning capacitive network coupled on one hand to the NFC controller and the antenna and on another hand to a reference terminal, at least one of both tuning capacitive networks having a variable capacitive value,
control means configured for determining at least partially by software, tuning capacitive values of the first and second tuning networks permitting to adjust the delivered output power at a desired level, and
setting means configured for setting the capacitive values of first and second tuning capacitive networks to said tuning capacitive values.

[0054] According to an embodiment, said at least one of both tuning capacitive networks is a tuning capacitive network having a set of selectable capacitive values.

[0055] According to an embodiment, both tuning capacitive networks have a variable capacitive value.

[0056] According to an embodiment, the first tuning capacitive network has a first set of selectable capacitive values and the second tuning capacitive network has a second set of selectable capacitive values.

[0057] According to an embodiment, said control means comprises
measurement means configured to measure for at least several capacitive values of the capacitive networks, respective sets of parameters including a respective voltage at antenna, a respective current delivered in the matching circuit by the NFC controller and a respective phase between the current delivered by the NFC controller and the current received by the NFC controller, and
a software module configured to execute a search algorithm using said measurements and selecting said tuning capacitive values of the first and second tuning capacitive networks on the basis of those sets of measured parameters and a set of corresponding target parameters.

[0058] According to an embodiment, said setting means comprises registers, said control means are configured to store in said registers indications (for example digitals words) corresponding to said tuning capacitive values, and said setting means are configured to adjust the capacitive values of said first and second tuning capacitive networks in accordance with the contents of said registers.

[0059] According to an embodiment, said software module is configured to determine a minimum of a weighting function of said measured and corresponding target parameters.

[0060] According to an embodiment, said software module is configured to calculate for each pair of selectable values respectively belonging to the first and second tuning capacitive networks and designated by said search algorithm, a value of said weighting function and to select as said tuning capacitive values, the pair of selectable values corresponding to the minimum value of said weighting function.

[0061] According to an embodiment, the NFC apparatus further comprises memory means configured to store a set of reference search algorithms and management means are configured to select the search algorithm among said set of reference search algorithms.

[0062] According to an embodiment, the NFC apparatus, for example a NFC reader, further comprises a microcontroller coupled to said NFC controller, said microcontroller incorporating said software module and said NFC controller incorporating said setting means.

[0063] Other advantages and features of the invention will appear in the detailed description bellow and in the appended drawings which are not limitative, in which:
-figures 1-4 illustrate particular embodiments of the invention.

[0064] On figure 1, reference 1 designates a NFC apparatus, for example a NFC reader, comprising an antenna 10 having two antenna terminals 100 and 101. The antenna 10 is coupled to a NFC controller 11 through a matching circuit 12.

[0065] The NFC controller is also coupled to a microcontroller 13.

[0066] As a non limitative example, the NFC controller may be the one having the internal reference ST25R3916 within STMicroelectronics.

[0067] As it will be explained more in detail thereafter, the NFC controller comprises measurement means 110 configured to measure a set of parameters including a voltage, a current and a phase.

[0068] The NFC controller comprises also setting means 111 configured to set capacitive values of both tuning capacitive networks incorporated in the matching circuit, to tuning capacitive values determined after the execution of a search algorithm located within a software module 130 of the microcontroller 13.

[0069] As it will be explained more in detail thereafter, several possible reference search algorithms may be used and are stored in a non-volatile memory 14 and the search algorithm, which is executed, is selected among those stored reference search algorithms.

[0070] In the example disclosed in figure 1, three possible reference search algorithms 141, 142, 143 are stored in the non-volatile memory 14.

[0071] And, the microcontroller 13 comprises management means, realized by software or by a logic circuit, configured to select the appropriate search algorithm depending on a desired criteria.

[0072] As illustrated more in details on figure 2, the matching circuit 12 comprises conventional external inductive, capacitive and resistive components.

[0073] This matching circuit 12 is coupled to the antenna terminals 100 and 101 and conventionally incorporates an EMI filter.

[0074] In the example described here, the architecture of the matching circuit is a differential architecture although the invention is also compatible with a single-ended architecture.

[0075] In this differential architecture, the matching circuit 12 is connected to ground GND and to input terminals RFI1 and RFI2 of the NFC controller 11 and to output terminals RFO1 and RFO2 of the NFC controller 11.

[0076] Further to those conventional external components, the matching circuit 12 comprises a first tuning capacitive network 120s connected in series between the NFC controller and the antenna.

[0077] More precisely, in this differential architecture, the first tuning capacitive network 120s comprises a first variable capacitor 120s coupled in series between the output terminal RFO1 and the antenna terminal 100 and a second variable capacitor 120s coupled in series between the second output terminal RFO2 and the antenna terminal 101.

[0078] Those variable capacitors 120s are also respectively coupled in parallel with two external "series" capacitors C1, C2 of the matching circuit 12.

[0079] The first tuning capacitive network 120s may be also called accordingly a "series" tuning capacitive network.

[0080] Each of the variable capacitors 120s may comprise a first set of switched capacitors having respectively different selectable capacitive values or a tunable capacitor.

[0081] Such a tunable capacitor may be for example the one having the internal reference STPTIC-15G2 within STMicroelectronics. Such a tunable capacitor offers excellent RF performance, low power consumption and high linearity advantageously required in adaptive RF tuning applications.

[0082] The capacitive value of the first tuning capacitive network 120s is controlled by a control signal SCLS delivered by a first auxiliary output AATS of the NFC controller.

[0083] The matching circuit 12 comprises also a second tuning capacitive network 120p coupled on one hand to the NFC controller and the antenna and on another hand to a reference terminal 122 which is here intended to be connected to a reference voltage, typically ground GND.

[0084] The second tuning capacitive value may be thus called a "parallel" tuning capacitive network.

[0085] In this differential architecture, the second tuning capacitive network comprises two variable capacitors 120p.

[0086] A first variable capacitor 120p is connected on one hand to the output terminal RFO1 and the antenna terminal 100 and on another hand to the reference terminal 122.

[0087] The other variable capacitor 120p is connected on one hand to the output terminal RFO2 and the antenna terminal 101 and on another hand to the reference terminal 122.

[0088] Those two variable capacitors 120p are also connected in parallel with two conventional parallel capacitors C3 and C4 of the matching circuit 12.

[0089] By analogy with the first tuning capacitive network, each variable capacitor 120p may comprise a second set of switched capacitors or a tunable capacitor.

[0090] And, the capacitive values of those variable capacitors 120p are controlled by a second control signal SCLP delivered by a second auxiliary output AATP of the NFC controller.

[0091] As an example, the tunable capacitor STPTIC-15G2 mentioned above, which comprises barium strontium titanate (BST), may be controlled through an extended bias voltage ranging from 1 to 24 V.

[0092] As it will be explained more in detail thereafter, the values of those control signals SCLS and SCLP are given by the content of registers RGs and RGp incorporated in the NFC controller and belonging to the setting means.

[0093] For example, for each variable tuning capacitor 120s and 120p, the ratio between the minimum capacitive value and the maximum capacitive value may be equal for example to 0,5, allowing therefore a reduction of the capacitance by 50%.

[0094] For example, a range of selectable capacitive values from 45pF to 90pF can be used. It is also possible to use for example a range from 100pF to 200pF or a range from 300pF to 600pF.

[0095] The choice of the range depends in particular on the antenna to match. The man skilled in the art will be able to choose a suitable range of capacitive values depending on the characteristics of the antenna.

[0096] Further, the amount of parallel capacitance needed to change the resonance frequency from the self-resonance frequency of the antenna to the carrier frequency (13,56 MHz for example) depends also on the antenna itself.

[0097] The man skilled in the art will be able to adjust the needed amount of parallel capacitance.

[0098] We refer now more particularly to figures 3 and 4 for describing more in details a particular embodiment of a method according to the invention.

[0099] As illustrated in figure 3, in a first step 300, the managing means 131, located within the microcontroller, select the search algorithm to be used for obtaining the tuning capacitive values of both various capacitors 120s and 120p.

[0100] As indicated above, this selection is made among a set of possible reference search algorithms stored in the non-volatile memory 14.

[0101] Different possible search algorithm will be detailed thereafter.

[0102] After this selection 300, the software module 130 located within the microcontroller 13, executes the selected search algorithm.

[0103] As it will be explained more in details thereafter, this search algorithm browses the set of selectable capacitive values of the capacitors 120s and 120p and uses a weighting function f as well as different weighting coefficients aw, pw, cw as well as target parameters aT, pT and cT.

[0104] The result of the execution of the search algorithm is a pair of tuning capacitive values TCs and TCp for the respective capacitors 120s and 120p, which will permit to obtain a desired level for the output power delivered by the NFC apparatus.

[0105] Indications (for examples digital words) corresponding to those tuning capacitive values TCs and TCp are stored (step 302) in the register RGs and RGp.

[0106] Then, the setting means set in step 303 the capacitors 120s and 120p with those tuning capacitive values TCs and TCp.

[0107] Reference is now made to figure 4 to illustrate more in details the execution step 301 of the search algorithm.

[0108] The two sets of selectable capacitive values of both tuning capacitive networks 120s and 120p may be considered as being a matrix or an array of points, each point being for example defined by a logical value of a digital word.

[0109] For example, if the digital word has 8 bits, up to 256 points may be designed by the logical value of the digital word.

[0110] The execution of the search algorithm begins by selecting a starting point.

[0111] This starting point may be an arbitrary starting point or eventually the point resulting from a last execution of the search algorithm.

[0112] This starting point is associated to starting capacitive values of the networks 120s and 120p.

[0113] Then, in step 400, generally speaking, for each point designated by the search algorithm, three parameters V, I and P are measured (step 4000).

[0114] V is the voltage, equal to the voltage on the antenna, which is measured at the NFC controller inputs RFI1, RFI2.

[0115] This voltage is measured by conventional means inside the NFC controller.

[0116] I is the current delivered in the matching circuit by the NFC controller at the terminals RFO1, RFO2.

[0117] The driver of the reader is typically supplied through an integrated low-dropout regulator (LDO regulator). Therefore, it is possible to measure the DC current which is consumed by the driver and outputted through the terminals RFO1, RFO2.

[0118] P is the phase between the current delivered by the NFC controller and the current received by the NFC controller.

[0119] In other words, the phase is measured as being the phase difference between the signals at the terminals RFO and the signals at the terminals RFI of the NFC controller. This measurement is similar to the voltage measurement and can be made by conventional means inside the NFC controller.

[0120] After having measured those parameters V, I and P for that point, the search algorithm calculates a weighting function f in step 4001, for that point.

[0121] The weighting function uses the measured parameters as well as corresponding target parameters which are determined taking into account the desired output power delivered by the NFC apparatus.

[0122] This function uses also weighting coefficients.

[0123] Many possible weighting functions are possible.

[0124] For example, it is possible to use a weighting function according to formulas (I), (II) or (III):







[0125] In those formulas, the variable "a" designates the value of the voltage V, the variable "c" designates the value of the current I and the variable "p" designates the value of the phase P.
aT, cT and pT designate the corresponding target parameters and aw, cw and pw designate the corresponding weighting coefficients.

[0126] Formula (I) discloses a linear relation while formula (II) discloses a linear relation where the weights of amplitude and current depend on the phase.

[0127] Formula (III) is a non-linear relation, which is more sensitive for small changes of a, c and p.

[0128] The man skilled in the art will be able to choose the suitable weighting function depending on the circumstances.

[0129] The weighting coefficients are chosen within the closed interval [0,1] and permit to determine the importance of the corresponding variable of the function.

[0130] For example, if in a particular application it is desired to reduce the importance of the current to the half of the importance of the voltage, the weighting coefficient cw could be chosen as the equal to aw/2.

[0131] As a non limitative example, the target parameter aT may vary between 0 mV and 3000 mV while the target parameter cT may vary between 0 mA and 350 mA and the target parameter pT may vary between 30° and 150°.

[0132] For example, to get the maximum output power, it is desired to have the highest voltage of the antenna, thus choosing the target parameter aT equal to 3000 mV, at the maximum given current and at a phase of 90°.

[0133] Thus, the target parameter cT will be chosen to 350 mA and the target parameter pT will be chosen to 90°.

[0134] It would be also possible to reach the target of 3000 mV with a lower current. In such a case, the target parameter cT will have a lower value.

[0135] If it is desired to have a low output power, it is possible to choose the target parameter aT equal to 3000 mV, the target parameter cT equal to 100 mA (which corresponds for example to a maximum current budget) and the target parameter pT equal to 90°.

[0136] After having calculated the weighting function f, the search algorithm moves to the next point (step 4002) except if the last point was considered as being the best point, i.e. the point having the minimum weighting function.

[0137] As a matter of fact, the goal of this search algorithm is to determine the best point having the minimum weighting function.

[0138] This best point is associated with said tuning capacitive values TCs and TCp for the respective variable capacitors 120s and 120p.

[0139] As indicated above, many possible search algorithms can be used depending in particular of a trade-off between accuracy and execution time.

[0140] For example, an algorithm using a two-stage approach can be used.

[0141] In such a case, for each given capacitive value of one of the two capacitors 120s and 120p, all the possible capacitive values of the other capacitor are successively examined and, after all the matrix of points has been examined, the point having the minimum value of the weighting function is selected.

[0142] Such algorithm permits to find absolute extremum when multiple extrema exist but is relatively slow due to many measurements.

[0143] A second possible search algorithm may perform a two-dimensional binary search.

[0144] More precisely, such algorithm divides the search space (the matrix) into 4 segments and assesses them. The assessment is based on the measurement of the center point of each segment. Those center points are compared by applying the weighting function. The sector with the best assessed value will be taken for the next iteration of the algorithm and the other three sectors are dropped. This is repeated until the remaining sector cannot be divided further. The center point of this last remaining sector is the best point.

[0145] Such an algorithm is fast and allows having always the same number of measurements at each execution. However, an early wrong decision on the sector to follow, could lead to a bad result.

[0146] But this could be improved by taking more point inside a sector for evaluating the sector.

[0147] Another possible algorithm is a so-called "hill climb" algorithm. Such "hill climb" algorithm starts from a starting point and measures four points around. The four points will then be assessed with the weighting function. Based on this assessment, the point having the lowest value of the weighting function is the starting point for the next iteration and the points around this new starting point will be measured. This will be repeated until no better point can be found. The best point is thus the center point of the last four measured points.

[0148] Such algorithm has accurate runtime depending on the starting point.

[0149] Generally speaking, using the appropriate search algorithm permits to minimize the number of measurements. For best performance, the tuning could be advantageously repeated whenever the environment changes. The searching algorithm can be improved by choosing starting values that are already close to the search target. For example the starting point for a new execution of the search algorithm may be the best point obtained with a preceding execution of said search algorithm.


Claims

1. Method of managing an output power delivered by an antenna (10) of a NFC apparatus (1), said antenna being coupled to a NFC controller (11) by a matching circuit (12), said method comprising providing said matching circuit with a first tuning capacitive network (120s) connected in series between the NFC controller and the antenna and with a second tuning capacitive network (120p) coupled on one hand to the NFC controller and the antenna and on another hand to a reference terminal, at least one of both tuning capacitive networks (120s, 120p) having a variable capacitive value, determining (301) at least partially by software, tuning capacitive values (TCs, TCp) of the first and second tuning networks (120s, 120p) permitting to adjust the delivered output power at a desired level and setting (303) the capacitive values of first and second tuning capacitive networks (120s, 120p) to said tuning capacitive values.
 
2. Method according to claim 1, wherein said at least one of both tuning capacitive networks (120s, 120p) is a tuning capacitive network having a set of selectable capacitive values.
 
3. Method according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein both tuning capacitive networks (120s, 120p) have a variable capacitive value.
 
4. Method according to claim 3, wherein the first tuning capacitive network (120s) has a first set of selectable capacitive values and the second tuning capacitive network (120p) has a second set of selectable capacitive values.
 
5. Method according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein determining said tuning capacitive values of the first and second tuning networks comprises executing (301) a search algorithm using measurements for at least several capacitive values of the capacitive networks, of respective sets of parameters (V,I,P) including a respective voltage at antenna, a respective current delivered in the matching circuit by the NFC controller and a respective phase between the current delivered by the NFC controller and the current received by the NFC controller, said search algorithm selecting said tuning capacitive values (TCs, TCp) of the first and second tuning capacitive networks on the basis of those sets of measured parameters and a set of corresponding target parameters (aT, cT, pT).
 
6. Method according to claim 5, wherein selecting said tuning capacitive values of the first and second tuning capacitive networks comprises determining a minimum of a weighting function (f) of said measured and corresponding target parameters.
 
7. Method according to claim 6 taken in combination with claim 2 or 4, wherein selecting said tuning capacitive values (TCs, TCp) comprises calculating for each pair of selectable values respectively belonging to the first and second tuning capacitive networks and designated by said search algorithm, a value of said weighting function (f) and selecting as said tuning capacitive values, the pair of selectable values corresponding to the minimum value of said weighting function (f).
 
8. Method according to any one of the preceding claims taken in combination with claim 5, further comprising selecting (300) said search algorithm among a set of reference search algorithms (141, 142, 143).
 
9. Method according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein said NFC apparatus (1) is a NFC reader.
 
10. NFC apparatus, comprising an antenna (10) coupled to a NFC controller (11) through a matching circuit (12), said matching circuit (12) including a first tuning capacitive network (120s) connected in series between the NFC controller and the antenna and a second tuning capacitive network (120p) coupled on one hand to the NFC controller (11) and the antenna (10) and on another hand to a reference terminal (122), at least one of both tuning capacitive networks (120s, 120p) having a variable capacitive value, control means (110, 130) configured for determining at least partially by software, tuning capacitive values (Tcs, TCp) of the first and second tuning networks (120s, 120p) permitting to adjust the delivered output power at a desired level and setting means (111, RGs, RGp) configured to set the capacitive values of first and second tuning capacitive networks (120s, 120p) to said tuning capacitive values (TCs, TCp).
 
11. NFC apparatus according to claim 10, wherein said at least one of both tuning capacitive networks (120s, 120p) is a tuning capacitive network having a set of selectable capacitive values.
 
12. NFC apparatus according to claim 10 or 11, wherein both tuning capacitive networks (120s, 120p) have a variable capacitive value.
 
13. NFC apparatus according to claim 12, wherein the first tuning capacitive network (120s) has a first set of selectable capacitive values and the second tuning capacitive network (120p) has a second set of selectable capacitive values.
 
14. NFC apparatus according to any one of the claims 10 to 13, wherein said control means comprises measurement means (110) configured to measure for at least several capacitive values of the capacitive networks, respective sets of parameters (V,I,P) including a respective voltage at antenna, a respective current delivered in the matching circuit by the NFC controller and a respective phase between the current delivered by the NFC controller and the current received by the NFC controller, and a software module (130) configured to execute a search algorithm using said measurements and select said tuning capacitive values (TCs, TCp) of the first and second tuning capacitive networks on the basis of those sets of measured parameters and a set of corresponding target parameters (aT, cT, pT).
 
15. NFC apparatus according to claim 14, wherein said setting means comprises registers (RGs, RGp), said control means are configured to store in said registers indications corresponding to said tuning capacitive values, and said setting means are configured to adjust the capacitive values of said first and second tuning capacitive networks in accordance with the contents of said registers.
 
16. NFC apparatus according to claim 14 or 15, wherein said software module (130) is configured to determine a minimum of a weighting function (f) of said measured and corresponding target parameters.
 
17. NFC apparatus according to claim 16 taken in combination with claim 12 or 14, wherein said software module (130) is configured to calculate for each pair of selectable values respectively belonging to the first and second tuning capacitive networks and designated by said search algorithm, a value of said weighting function (f) and to select as said tuning capacitive values (TCs, TCp), the pair of selectable values corresponding to the minimum value of said weighting function.
 
18. NFC apparatus according to any one of the claims 10 to 17 taken in combination with claim 14, further comprising memory means (14) configured to store a set of reference search algorithms (140, 141, 142) and management means (131) configured to select said search algorithm among said set of reference search algorithms.
 
19. NFC apparatus according to any one of the claims 10 to 18, further comprising a microcontroller (13) coupled to said NFC controller (11), said microcontroller (13) incorporating said software module (130) and said NFC controller incorporating said setting means (111, RGs, RGp).
 
20. NFC apparatus according to any one of the claims 10 to 19, being a NFC reader (1).
 




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Search report