Solar panels could be broadband receivers, says research team

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Solar panels can not only be used to power data communication systems, but may also be able to act as broadband receivers. The idea has been developed by Edinburgh University’s LiFi R&D centre and spin off pureLiFI, who also suggest that smart watches might be powered and connected to the internet using light.

Tom Higgison, IP project manager with Edinburgh Research and Innovation, said: “This technology combines light based data communications with energy harvesting to create an exciting set of applications not previously anticipated, including rural broadband access, smart city networks and the Internet of Things. The wider opportunity is to transform global communications by speeding the process of bringing internet and other data communication functionality to remote and poorer regions in a way not previously thought achievable due to lack of infrastructure and investment.”

The approach builds on work performed at Edinburgh by Professor Harald Haas, pictured. He said: “The potential expansion to the internet is massive and my aspiration is that this broadband solar panel receiver technology for Li-Fi will help solve the challenges of the digital divide throughout the world and catalyse the uptake of the IoT, as connectivity and battery-free power supplies are essential if we want to connect 1trillion objects to the internet.”

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