Utilising an optical wireless communications system called light fidelity, or Li-Fi, the researchers managed to reach download speeds of 224 gigabits per second (Gbps), which is over twice as fast as Google’s optical fibre networks (around 100 Gbps), which only over the last few years have become a reality. While Li-Fi is not a new concept, previous to this experiment, the fastest recorded Li-Fi network was around 10.5Gbps, a much less competitive speed.
The paper, initially published in Photonics Technology Letters in late November last year, was updated earlier this week to include the breakthrough speeds they achieved.
Li-Fi is still being developed as a potential alternative to Wi-Fi, and is a long way from commercial use, however speeds of 224Gbps would be equivalent to downloading 15 movies of 1.5 gigabytes each in one second.
Not only does the breakthrough in this technology offer much higher speeds than contemporary Wi-Fi technology (around 600 Megabits per second), but in the future every LED lightbulb could potentially be used as an ultra-fast alternative to Wi-Fi.
In a TED Talk demonstrating Li-Fi, Harold Haas the Li-Fi pioneer suggests that “all we need to do [to commercialise Li-Fi] is fit a small microchip to every potential illumination device and this would then combine two basic functionalities: illumination and wireless data transmission.”
Of course, in reality this is a lot more complex than it sounds.
Nonetheless, Li-Fi has the potential to provide a faster, more efficient alternative. “In the future we will not only have 14 billion light bulbs, we may have 14 billion Li-Fi’s deployed worldwide for a cleaner, greener and even a brighter future.”