What is inside a chip credit card?
Here are some Photographs.

I dissected an old credit card to see what the chip looked like

The actual chip is tiny and it is amazing how much information can be put on it.

credit card with chip

Photograph of my Credit card with Chip. Soon to be sacrificed to science.

Chip assembly cut out

Chip assembly is cut out using scissors. Brute force prevails! I checked the side and I cut through some wires going into the card. Close up photo of the contacts used when the card is slid into the reader.

Remove plastic film on chip

Working from the back of the credit card I removed a layer of printed plastic. I used a sharp knife and just peeled off the plastic film.

Protective film removed from credit card chip

This is what the assembly looks like after removing the plastic film. I can see little wires running from the central rectangle to the other bits of the chip assembly. Looks like gold, probably is.

Remove plastic film on chip

There is a big glob of soft plastic on top of the structure. Using my knife I peeled this off. The wires were imbedded in this plastic and they broke off as I peeled and chipped. I think this plastic held everything together. It's almost like hot glue.

I am taking these enlargements using a low powered microscope. I have a little camera that can be inserted into one of the objectives. Not good for high magnifications but for 30 x it's good enough.

Stiff plastic has been removed from the credit card chip.

Stiff plastic glob has been removed and exposed a shiny iridescent chip. The little wires were torn off but the attachment are still visible in the photograph.

Here the chip is looking bright yellow.

Another angle of the credit card chip

Photo taken at a slightly different angle shows up as magenta. Another angle of the chip shows as turquoise.

close up of chip shows circuits etched in silica

Close up photo of the actual chip. It's about 2.7 mm in the long side. The circuits can be seen etched in the silicon. The plastic covering is still visible lower right. On bottom left there are 4 attachment points for the little wires that got pulled off. It is very thin and brittle. Maybe a quarter mm thick.

other side of the chip with adhesive scraped off.

The chip was attached to the backing with a white plastic adhesive. I used my knife and carefully pried the chip off. It chipped a little. It is very brittle and fragile. The photograph shows the back with some of the glue scraped off to expose the black silicon crystal. It broke in 4 pieces here are 2. The larger black one with the white glue scraped off is only about 1 mm across. I'm using a microscope to take this apart but I'm pretty clumsy! Focus is tricky with this primitive set up. Fun though.

How do chip card work?

Contact smart cards have a gold plated contact pad area of approximately 1 square centimetre. These pads provide electrical connectivity when inserted into a reader. This allows communication between card and computer or point of sale device. Power for card is supplied by the card reader.

Contactless smart card, in which the card communicates with and is powered by the reader through RF (Radio Frequency) induction. These cards need to be near an antenna to communicate.

The card I dissected was a Hybrid and could be used as a contact or tap card or contactless card.

The chip is capable of storing information which is used when the credit card is used.



This web site reflects my personal ideas and doesn't represent anyone else's point of view.