Feeds

Brit boffins GANG-RESEARCH tiny LEDs for 1Gbps network

Itsy bitsy teenie weenie LEDs to go all beamy

Bridging the IT gap between rising business demands and ageing tools

A consortium of UK universities have banded together to spend some government cash building very small LEDs with a view to creating broadcast networks capable of hitting 1Gbps.

The team, led by the University of Strathclyde and taking contributions from research units at Cambridge, Edinburgh, Oxford and St Andrews, plans to spend four years working out how to manufacturer and utilise micro-sized LEDs which can be bundled together to provide lighting, parallel communication channels, or used as pixels in giant light displays.

It is far from the first time flashing lights have been posited as a broadcast communications medium. The seminal work from Xerox on pads, tabs and screens - 1980s research attempting to predict the future of computing - used flashing infrared repeater hubs to simulate the wireless networks that hadn't been invented at the time.

There's also been much talk of using fluorescent lighting for broadcasting updates to intelligent supermarket shelves, but it turns out that a PFY is cheaper.

LEDs are a natural fit, they already flash very rapidly and the idea has attracted quite bit of interest - but that work is all based in elements a square millimetre in size, while the new team wants to get the size down into the micron space.

Being smaller means flashing faster - about 1,000 times faster according to the team. And by making each LED a subtly different colour, they can all transmit separate data streams, which means 1,000 of them packed into a square millimetre can outperform existing techniques a million times over.

Receiving the signal will, no doubt, be a key area for the project, which is funded with some of the £800m which gets awarded annually by the UK's Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. The project will last four years, and aspires to make "li-fi" (as the team would have it) routine within a decade.

Li-fi is limited to line of sight, human eyes being sensitive to the same part of the electromagnetic spectrum, but reflections could still be used and fast networking is valuable even without penetration.

It won't be replacing radio networks any time soon, but could easily fill some gaps, and if the worst comes to the worst the team will still have minuscule and multicolour LEDs which could be used to create television screens of any size imaginable. ®

Mobile application security vulnerability report

More from The Register

next story
Bad back? Show some spine and stop popping paracetamol
Study finds common pain-killer doesn't reduce pain or shorten recovery
Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 claimed lives of HIV/AIDS cure scientists
Researchers, advocates, health workers among those on shot-down plane
Mwa-ha-ha-ha! Eccentric billionaire Musk gets his PRIVATE SPACEPORT
In the Lone Star State, perhaps appropriately enough
World Solar Challenge contender claims new speed record
One charge sees Sunswift travel 500kms at over 100 km/h
SMELL YOU LATER, LOSERS – Dumbo tells rats, dogs... humans
Junk in the trunk? That's what people have
All those new '5G standards'? Here's the science they rely on
Radio professor tells us how wireless will get faster in the real world
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.