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Light bulbs inspire boffins to find fast data transfer trick

Many lights make bytes work

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Switch a lightbulb on and off fast enough, and you can transmit data without giving everyone in the room a headache.

So say boffins from Germany's Fraunhofer Institute who have managed to get data-transfer rates of up to 230Mb/s out of a flashing light, in a paper to be published by the Optical Society of America.

Regular light bulbs aren't, alas, up to it - they can't be switched on and off sufficiently rapidly - and the scientists found that LED-based lights aren't much better. The team, led by Jelena Vuckovic, were able to increase the data rate significantly by eliminating all but the blue light from the LED's spectrum.

From a few megabits per second they were able to up the rate to around 100Mb/s. Work on the receiver more than doubled that rate to 230Mb/s. Applying modulation techniques will increase the throughput further, by a factor of two, Vuckovic said. ®

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