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US researchers develop visible light link

LESA makes high speed visible-light transmission link with a fully integrated microchip receiver

As the demand for mobile wireless services continues to grow, and the deployment of Internet of Things (IoT) technologies expands, Visible Light Communication (VLC) is emerging as a potential broadband transmission technology that will offer virtually unlimited spectrum for high quality wireless services.

The Center for Lighting Enabled Systems and Applications (LESA), an Engineering Research Center funded by the US National Science Foundation headquartered at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) has achieved what it claims is the world's first high speed visible-light transmission link with a fully integrated microchip receiver.

These first-of-a-kind integrated results advance the use of the unregulated visible spectrum in high speed wireless systems.

The low-cost, compact, integrated microchip receiver developed at the LESA ERC is said to enable development of more advanced technology that can be used for applications such as imaging, indoor GPS, occupancy tracking, self-alignment, and the hand-over required for mobile wireless scenarios.

In conjunction with RF wireless technologies, VLC is a promising candidate for inclusion in future 5G communications platforms. It also opens the path to new applications in outdoor applications, such as building-to-building, streetlight-to-streetlight, vehicle-to-vehicle and industrial communications where current wifi networking can suffer from interference issues.

Interestingly, higher frequency radio-frequency platforms (60 GHz and mm wave) have characteristics very similar to light-based communications (e.g., line of sight, limited ability to penetrate certain materials), making VLC based platforms a contender for advanced high bandwidth wireless communications.

Funded primarily by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the ERC is an interdisciplinary, multi-university center developing "Smart Lighting Systems that See and Think".

The LESA Center is headquartered at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY, and partners with Boston University, The University of New Mexico and Thomas Jefferson University to achieve its objectives.

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