Li-Fi communication module wirelessly transfers data at 1-Gbps

October 31, 2014 // By Paul Buckley
The Fraunhofer Institute for Photonic Microsystems IPMS in Dresden has developed communication modules that can wirelessly transfer data at a speed of up to 1 Gigabit per second over a distance of up to 10 meters.

The optical technology, which is especially designed for industrial customers and can already be tested as a compact Customer Evaluation Kit, is one of Fraunhofer IPMS’ highlights at this year’s electronica event which is held in Munich, Germany from November 11-14, 2014.

High data rates, robustness, low energy consumption, data security and networking capability. The requirements for data exchange in the entire production and process automation segment, in which industrial equipment is becoming ever more complex and in which more and more sensors, machines and control units are communicating with each other, are enormous. The growth of these requirements has also resulted in increased demands to find substitutes for the prevailing wire-bound fieldbus systems. That is because, especially in the case of movable or moving equipment components, such as grapplers or lifting devices, wireless systems offer better reliability and security than expensive special cables or collector rings that are prone to wear and tear; they are also easier to install and offer more flexibility. In addition, they are always required when the installation of a signal cable from sensor or actuating elements to the control unit is either impossible or very cumbersome and the use of wireless solutions offers significant cost savings in terms of installation and maintenance.

The wireless communication technology developed by the scientists at Fraunhofer IPMS can do much more than supplement or replace cable-bound transmission technologies. Thanks to a data rate of 1 Gigabit per second, it is also superior to conventional wireless technologies such as WLAN and is therefore predestined for all application areas in which large data volumes must be transmitted virtually in real time.

The solution developed by Fraunhofer IPMS uses light in the infrared range as the wireless transmission medium. The so-called optical wireless communication uses the internationally non-regulated spectrum of light with bandwidths of several Gigabits per second and - provided there are no blocks between sender and recipient - has