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British scientists shove 10Gbps through micro light bulbs in LiFi experiment

Researchers from a number of UK universities are claiming to have achieved transmission speeds faster than 10Gbps in an LiFi – light-based WiFi – experiment. 

Using a micro LED bulb, scientists working on the UPVLC (Ultra Parallel Visible Light Communications) project transmitted three 3.5Gbps streams to LiFi receivers.  

The small bulbs, developed by the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, use the red, green and blue elements to transmit the three 3.5Gbps streams, which together exceeded speeds of 10Gbps. 

British scientists shove 10Gbps through micro light bulbs in LiFi experiment
A close-up of a micro LED bulb shows that it does resemble a showerhead

One of the project leaders is Professor Harald Haas, co-founder of PureLiFi and the man who coined the term ‘LiFi’. Haas explained to the BBC the principle behind the technique: “If you think of a shower head separating water out into parallel streams, that’s how we can make light behave.” 

Visible light is part of the electromagnetic spectrum and is 10,000 times bigger than the radio spectrum. This means that LiFi could provide potentially unlimited capacity and help solve future problems

Recent LiFi experiments have shown that speeds of 150Mbps and 500Mbps are possible using standard LED light bulb fittings. It’s hoped that with simple light bulb kits, home customers will be able to easily set up LiFi networks around the house. 

Due to the direct line-of-sight nature of LiFi, it’s likely that larger, non-domestic settings will be a better home for the emerging technology at least at first. PureLiFi has shipped its first product to a US healthcare company and Japanese firm Commulight has demonstrated how LiFi might work in a museum setting

The UPVLC experiment is a joint venture between the Universities of Cambridge, Edinburgh, Oxford, St Andrews and Strathclyde that will run until September 2016. 

Image: Matt Barber/Flickr

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