Hitachi announces smallest IC chips

Hitachi Thursday announced it has developed a non-contact IC (integrated circuit) chip that is smaller than a grain of rice and designed to be embedded in a piece of paper, according to the company, which claims the chip is the smallest non-contact IC in the world.

The new chip, which measures 0.4 millimeters by 0.4 millimeters, runs at 2.45GHz with 128 bits of ROM (read only memory), which does not allow data to be changed once it is written to memory. The chip is highly durable and does not break when the piece of paper it is embedded in is folded, said Masanao Sato, a spokesman for Hitachi, adding further development of the chip is underway.

Each chip can hold a number up to 38 digits long, large enough so that it's possible for every chip to have a unique identification number, according to Sato. The company expects the chips to be used to prevent forgery by putting them into important documents, such as paper money, securities, gift certificates and personal checks, he said.

In addition, the chips can be used to prevent the sale of fake luxury goods, such as handbags, where forgeries have been a problem, Sato said.

To accelerate the commercialization of the new chip, Hitachi plans to launch a new division to market and sell the chips, which the company hopes will generate sales worth 18 billion yen (US$145 million) by 2005, Sato said.

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