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Using LEDs to Transmit Wireless Data with Li-Fi

The Internet-of-Things (IoT) sector will revolutionize lighting systems by incorporating wireless features and sensors for network-based or automated operation. LEDs, with their energy efficient features and solid-state builds, is also set to become the lighting technology of choice around the same time the IoT industry hits mainstream.

Can LEDs help bridge the gap between the demand for wireless data transmission and IoT networks? Find out below.

LEDs and Li-Fi

Li-Fi, which uses light instead of radio frequencies (used by traditional Wi-Fi), was first introduced in 2011 at the University of Edinburgh, as an alternative to Wi-Fi. The protocol uses rapidly flickering light from a single LED to transmit data wirelessly. Called Visible Light Communication (VLC), Li-Fi leverages frequencies in the range of 400 and 800 terahertz.

The best way to visualize how Li-Fi works is by comparing it with light-based Morse Code. The diodes toggle at rapid speeds (undetectable by humans). This process, which is called on-off keying, facilitates the transmission of binary code to a receiving device. An alternative VLC method includes continuous signaling.

Combining Illumination with Wireless Data Transmission

Interestingly, according to researchers from the University of Edinburgh, LED fixtures can be used to light up a room and transmit wireless data simultaneously, without affecting illumination. Both VLC techniques mentioned above does not degrade LED performance (no dimming or color shifting).

The lifespan of the LED is also retained at 50,000+ hours. However, it is critical to highlight that such processes can contribute to a slight increase in operating temperature experienced by the luminary.

According to a recently published study (Perovskite Nanocrystals as a Color Converter for Visible Light Communication), scientists are incorporating a nanocrystalline structure (derivative of cesium lead bromide and nitride phosphor) in order to increase bandwidth capacity. As a result, data speeds of 2 Gbps and a bandwidth of 500 megahertz can be achieved.

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