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KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog
Amateur Radio--news, analysis, discussion, and antennas
Curated by Russ Roberts
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One way to solve the bandwidth crisis is to switch to light transmission

One way to solve the bandwidth crisis is to switch to light transmission | KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog | Scoop.it

FLICKERING lights are annoying but they may have an upside. Visible light communication (VLC) uses rapid pulses of light to transmit information wirelessly. Now it may be ready to compete with conventional Wi-Fi.


"At the heart of this technology is a new generation of high-brightness light-emitting diodes," says Harald Haas from the University of Edinburgh, UK. "Very simply, if the LED is on, you transmit a digital 1, if it's off you transmit a 0," Haas says. "They can be switched on and off very quickly, which gives nice opportunities for transmitting data."

 

It is possible to encode data in the light by varying the rate at which the LEDs flicker on and off to give different strings of 1s and 0s. The LED intensity is modulated so rapidly that human eyes cannot notice, so the output appears constant.

 

More sophisticated techniques could dramatically increase VLC data rates. Teams at the University of Oxford and the University of Edinburgh are focusing on parallel data transmission using arrays of LEDs, where each LED transmits a different data stream. Other groups are using mixtures of red, green and blue LEDs to alter the light's frequency, with each frequency encoding a different data channel.

 

Li-Fi, as it has been dubbed, has already achieved blisteringly high speeds in the lab. Researchers at the Heinrich Hertz Institute in Berlin, Germany, have reached data rates of over 500 megabytes per second using a standard white-light LED. Haas has set up a spin-off firm to sell a consumer VLC transmitter that is due for launch next year. It is capable of transmitting data at 100 MB/s - faster than most UK broadband connections.

 

Once established, VLC could solve some major communication problems. In 2009, the US Federal Communications Commission warned of a looming spectrum crisis: because our mobile devices are so data-hungry we will soon run out of radio-frequency bandwidth. Li-Fi could free up bandwidth, especially as much of the infrastructure is already in place.

 

"There are around 14 billion light bulbs worldwide, they just need to be replaced with LED ones that transmit data," says Haas. "We reckon VLC is a factor of ten cheaper than Wi-Fi." Because it uses light rather than radio-frequency signals, VLC could be used safely in aircraft, integrated into medical devices and hospitals where Wi-Fi is banned, or even underwater, where Wi-Fi doesn't work at all.

 

"The time is right for VLC, I strongly believe that," says Haas, who presented his work at TED Global in Edinburgh last week.


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
Russ Roberts's insight:

If experimental work with LEDs continues to prove successful, a new branch of communications tabbed Visible Light Communications could supplant Wi-Fi in the years ahead.  According to Harald Haas of the University of Edinburgh, UK, Li-Fi, as the new medium is called, "has attained data rates of over 500 megabytes per second using a standard white LED."  The experiments were conducted at the Heinrich Hertz Institute in Berlin, Germany.  Haas believes a commercially viable VLC transmitter will be available sometime in 2015.  VLC could solve many of the bandwidth problems in the United States, since "much of the infrastructure is already in place."  Many amateur radio operators in Europe and the United States are experimenting in both the visible and infrared portion of the electromagnetic spectrum.  The tetrahertz spectrum is the new frontier of both amateur and commerical communication.  Aloha de Russ (KH6JRM).

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First computer made of tiny carbon nanotubes is unveiled

First computer made of tiny carbon nanotubes is unveiled | KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog | Scoop.it

The miniaturization of electronic devices has been the principal driving force behind the semiconductor industry, and has brought about major improvements in computational power and energy efficiency. Although advances with silicon-based electronics continue to be made, alternative technologies are being explored. Digital circuits based on transistors fabricated from carbon nanotubes (CNTs) have the potential to outperform silicon by improving the energy–delay product, a metric of energy efficiency, by more than an order of magnitude. Hence, CNTs are an exciting complement to existing semiconductor technologies.

 

Owing to substantial fundamental imperfections inherent in CNTs, however, only very basic circuit blocks have been demonstrated. Scientists from Stanford recently show how these imperfections can be overcome, and demonstrate the first computer built entirely using CNT-based transistors. The CNT computer runs an operating system that is capable of multitasking: as a demonstration, we perform counting and integer-sorting simultaneously. In addition, we implement 20 different instructions from the commercial MIPS instruction set to demonstrate the generality of our CNT computer. This experimental demonstration is the most complex carbon-based electronic system yet realized. It is a considerable advance because CNTs are prominent among a variety of emerging technologies that are being considered for the next generation of highly energy-efficient electronic systems.


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
Russ Roberts's insight:

Another computer revolution may be upon us. Aloha de Russ (KH6JRM).

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Nickelate Synaptic Transistors Could Improve Parallel Computing

Nickelate Synaptic Transistors Could Improve Parallel Computing | KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog | Scoop.it

"Materials scientists at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) have created a new type of transistor that mimics the behavior of a synapse. The synaptic transistor simultaneously modulates the flow of information in a circuit and physically adapts to changing signals. The technology could lead to creation of a new kind of artificial intelligence which is embedded in the very architecture of a computer rather than software."


Via Miguel Prazeres
Russ Roberts's insight:

A fascinating new transitor technology that could affect computers and amateur radio.  According to "robaid.com", the "technology could lead to creation of a new kind of artificial intelligence which is embedded in the very archtecture of a computer rather than software."  This technology could have an impact on the design and production of SDR (software defined radios) equipment.  Aloha de Russ (KH6JRM).

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