This research project was made possible through a grant from the National Science Foundation.
Hybrid Visible-Light and Radio-Frequency Communications with Integrated Medium-Access Control
The explosion in demand for wireless communications has resulted in the crowding of the electromagnetic spectrum. To service the exponentially increasing demand forecast for the near future, new technologies and frequency bands need to be considered. One such technology is Visible-Light-Communications (VLC), where light-emitting diode (LED)-based lighting systems can be used to transmit data while also providing illumination. The visible-light spectrum provides a very large bandwidth of electromagnetic spectrum that has the potential to help alleviate the spectral crunch. This research addresses the challenge of tightly integrating VLC communications with Radio-Frequency (RF) communications, where the RF channel is used only when a VLC link cannot be established, and for upstream data transmissions between users and access points since the upstream link poses a number of challenges for VLC including significant glare that would result from high-powered lights on mobile devices, and high power consumption. The PI will develop practical, efficient protocols and algorithms for hybrid VLC-RF communications systems.
Successful completion of this project will be a major step towards making VLC-RF systems practical which will help service the increased demand for wireless data communications in the future, and help train the next generation of engineers. We also expect that the research will lead to improved internet access, particularly in dense urban environments.