STM32 Nucleo expansion board embeds boosted NFC

November 19, 2015 // By Graham Prophet
An STM32 Nucleo expansion board that incorporates boostedNFC from ams provides a hardware and software blueprint for ultra compact NFC designs. The combined product, with software running on an STM32-family MCU, is suitable for IoT nodes and contactless card emulation in wearables.

ams' boostedNFC technology enables reliable NFC coupling in space-constrained devices, and is now implemented in a complete STM32 system development board, from ST, that plugs into Nucleo STM32 main boards. This provides a complete design blueprint for implementing NFC in applications such as IoT nodes, in which NFC can be used for configuration and network commissioning, and wearable devices, in which it may securely carry data for contactless payments, ticketing or access control.

The expansion board is supplied with a full suite of NFC firmware provided by ST for its ARM Cortex-M based STM32 microcontrollers. The NFC board is complemented by other expansion boards implementing fingerprint recognition, Bluetooth connectivity, M2M communications and a display, to enable rapid prototyping of a complete NFC-enabled end product.

ST’s NFC expansion board is based on the ams AS39230 boostedNFC analogue front end, and ST’s own ST54E system-in-package (incorporating the ST21NFCC controller and the ST33G1M2 Secure Element). Depending on application requirements, the board can be connected to various antenna sizes, ranging from 400 mm² supporting NFC Reader/Writer functionality down to ultra-tiny SMD antennas for Card Emulation-only functionality.

The circuit implemented in the new board provides NFC performance in conditions hostile to RF signals, for instance when operating close to or inside metal surfaces, or when transmitting through a very small antenna. Designers of IoT nodes and wearables, for instance, often have to enclose their devices in metal housings, or must accommodate an antenna inside an extremely small enclosure. The new expansion board gives them a ready-made NFC implementation that will achieve fast, reliable coupling with any standard NFC reader, such as smartphones, con-tactless payment terminals, transit system entry barriers and access control card readers.

The design implemented in the expansion board is also suitable for use in applications which re-quire worldwide certification, including for Common Criteria, EMVCo, GlobalPlatform, and Visa, Mastercard, Amex, and the People’s Bank of China (PBoC). It enables OEMs using an STM32