Li-Fi – an enabling technology that can transform our lives

Li-Fi was first introduced to the general public in a TED Talk in 2011, when I showed video streaming using off-the-shelf LED lights. This TED Talk has now been watched more than 1.6 million times, and Li-Fi has been featured by the BBC, New York Times, TIME Magazine, CNN International, ZDF and CNBC, and this indicates the high level of interest and potential high economic and social impact of the new, emerging Li-Fi technologies.

Li-Fi technology uses light waves instead of the current radio frequency spectrum to communicate data. Li-Fi is a bi-directional, networked, mobile, high-speed data communication technology. It complements the existing Wi-Fi, and also has the additional benefits of greater capacity, security and energy efficiency.

The visible light spectrum is huge (about 390 THz of bandwidth are available), licence-free, secure and safe. Devices such as LED lights and photo detectors are inexpensive and in common use, and Li-Fi technology can use the existing lighting systems already in place in rooms and buildings.

Harald Haas on the laboratory. Credit: Harald Haas.

Harald Haas on the laboratory. Credit: Harald Haas.

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The economic impact of light-based technologies

2015 is the International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies. For the sake of brevity, we often omit the “light-based technologies” part when talking about the year, but those three words describe a €300 billion market and a range of components and products that underpin our modern existence. But what are these technologies, and how did they come to be such a significant market?


Early example of impact from light-based technology?. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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IYL 2015 Events #26 | Week 29 June – 5 July

Find below the activities listed on the IYL 2015 Event Programme starting between 29 June – 5 July. Click on the links for more information on the different activities.

Please note that some last-minute additions to the event programme may not appear here. For an up-to-date overview of IYL 2015 events please visit the IYL 2015 Event Programme.

The Visual language of Stress in Glass: Revealed through Polarized Light

I am fascinated by the systems and structures we use for understanding the world around us, bringing context to the unknown and chaotic. Light and glass play a crucial role in this endeavor, from the transmission of information through fiber optics, as well as the revealing of the distant unknowns, and the microscopic world right in front of our eyes.

"Alternating Entropy" Piece. Credit: Justin Gingsberg.

“Alternating Entropy” Piece. Credit: Justin Gingsberg.

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Light and Electrons!

Electrons are fundamental particles and play an important role in most of the physical phenomena spanning from static electricity to complex chemical and nuclear reactions. Although the existence of this negatively charged entity was theorized in the first half of the 18th century (1)(2), it was discovered by Sir J.J.Thompson in the year 1897 in the form of cathode rays.(3) This discovery is considered to be a highly important for the development of science and technology. The flow of these tiny particles is what drives the sophisticated electronic and electrical equipment, which have become an integral part of life.

Aurorae are mostly caused by energetic electrons precipitating into the atmosphere.

Aurorae are mostly caused by energetic electrons precipitating into the atmosphere. Credit: Samuel Blanc / Wikimedia Commons

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