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Visible Light Communications

Visible light communication (VLC) is an emerging technology that intends to enable high speed internet access primarily in the indoor environment and works on the principle of intensity modulation of existing solid-state lighting infrastructure often provided by light-emitting diodes (LEDs). VLC offers several key advantages over traditional radio-frequency based access networks including approximately 300 THz of license free bandwidth carried on visible wavelengths, ~10,000´ larger than that available in radio, which is also substantially oversubscribed. According to the latest forecasts, mobile data traffic is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 47% between 2016–2021. Considering the highly-congested nature of the radio spectrum, a complementary solution is clearly required, and VLC is one of the leading candidates to provide the additional spectrum.

 

Our aims at Pi-Lab, in collaboration with the both the Communications and Information Systems (CIS) and Organic Semiconductors and Nanostructures (OSN) groups at UCL, are to disrupt the conventional approaches to VLC, which have mostly been focused on extending the data rates supported by LED infrastructure. We are developing new approaches to VLC links including the development of polymer LEDs (PLEDs), which are provided by OSN. PLEDs offer numerous advantages over their traditional counterparts including unique mechanical characteristics such as flexibility and arbitrarily shaped photoactive areas. They can be deposited in any shape or pattern and hence, it is possible to build up large matrices of devices. In turn this unlocks unique communications capabilities including massively parallel transmission. We are particularly interested in Wavelength Division Multiplexing (WDM) methods to increase data rate in VLC systems and we are designing and fabricating the optical components, including gratings and microlenses, that underpin this technology.

 

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