Strathclyde leads light internet project.
Tiny LED lights could deliver Wi-Fi-like internet communications--while displaying information and illuminating homes--thanks to research led by Strathclyde University.
Professor Martin Dawson is leading a four-year project to develop "Li-Fi"--the transmission of internet communications using visible light, rather than the radio waves and microwaves currently in use. The work by a consortium of UK universities is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).
Professor Dawson said: "Imagine an LED array beside a motorway helping to light the road, displaying the latest traffic updates and transmitting internet information wirelessly to passengers' laptops, netbooks and smartphones. This is the kind of extraordinary, energy-saving parallelism that we believe our pioneering technology could deliver:'
Underpinning Li-Fi is the use LEDs that flicker on and off thousands of times a second: by altering the length of the flickers, it is possible to send digital information. This would make the visible part of the electromagnetic spectrum available for internet communications.
But rather than developing Li-Fi LEDs around 1[mm.sup.2] in size, which other researchers around the world are concentrating on, the EPSRC-funded team is developing tiny, micron-sized LEDs.
The tiny LEDs can flicker on and off 1,000 times quicker than the larger LEDs, meaning they can transmit data more quickly.