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Revolutionizing Communication: All-Light Networks

Communication is indeed an essential element of human interaction, facilitating the exchange not only of information but also of emotions, thoughts, and ideas, both verbally and nonverbally. Currently, advancements in technology and communication networks have made interpersonal communication more efficient.



One of the relatively new and most popular communication network projects today is that of Elon Musk. His project, “Starlink”, aims to provide high-speed internet that is available almost anywhere on Earth. Despite the project's theoretical viability, there are some concerns surrounding its implementation and potential contribution to space debris due to the deployment of a proposed 42,000 satellites into Earth's orbit.

The introduction of numerous new satellites into the already crowded space environment presents a serious challenge. On one hand, there is a need for improved network availability, and on the other hand, it raises concerns about potential increases in space debris and pollution, requiring careful consideration. Achieving a balance between these issues is crucial for the sustainable development of technology and exploration.


While Musk's project receives attention, it's essential to note that other entities, such as Nanjing University of Posts and Telecommunications and Suzhou Lighting Chip Monolithic Optoelectronics Technology Company in China, are also working on this problem. Their effort aims to develop a communication network enabling connectivity across space, air, and underwater domains while offering unique research opportunities. Notably, the project diverges from conventional reliance on satellite data by utilizing a diverse range of light sources to achieve its objectives.

Traditionally, humanity relied on radio wave-based communication technology, which has gradually been supplanted by optical communication in recent times. Despite its speed, optical communication has certain limitations hindering seamless connectivity. Wireless light communication networks are often tailored for specific situations, rendering them incompatible with broader systems. Chinese researchers overcome this obstacle by using four different light spectra for four different environments or applications.


Since seawater selectively absorbs blue-green light, allowing it to travel further underwater than other wavelengths, the team chose blue light for underwater communication. This enables communication with buoys and underwater devices or to control unmanned underwater vehicles. When it comes to transmitting data between objects above water, white LEDs are used. Deep ultraviolet light establishes connections with aerial devices, including drones, that offer solar-blind communication and shield against solar interference. Additionally, near-infrared laser diodes are employed for point-to-point communication in free space due to their high optical power and directed light output, facilitating passage through glass and other materials.


The TCP/IP protocol, supporting computers on the same network to communicate with each other, is used in the network's design to provide both wired and wireless access to the Internet. This feature makes the network suitable for Internet of Things (IoT) applications, which encompass the interconnected network of devices facilitating communication among them. Researchers stated that in order to combine data using Ethernet switches, it was crucial to create a single transmission channel for communication with laser diodes, deep UV wavelengths, white light, and blue light. The efficacy of data transmission over optical networks hinges upon several pivotal components, including the avalanche photodiode, pivotal for constraining transmission range, alongside LEDs and modulation techniques dictating network throughput. Additionally, the optical bandpass filter assumes a critical function by segregating requisite light signals from those within other spectrums, thereby ensuring precise and efficient data transmission.


Through their study, researchers demonstrated the capabilities of an all-light communication network. Leveraging both wired and wireless connectivity, the network successfully sent and received real-time video, sensor data, pictures, and audio files. Furthermore, the network exhibits full-duplex video transmission and reception capabilities, which is helpful for video conferences. With minimal delay, the network maintained high-quality real-time video playback at 22 frames per second, with resolutions of 1920 × 1080 and 2560 × 1440 pixels. Analysis using a network packet instrument revealed a transmission latency of less than 74 milliseconds and a maximum packet loss percentage of 5.80%.


A key focus for researchers currently is enhancing the performance of the all-light communication network. Their objective is to utilize wavelength division multiplexing to allow mobile nodes to connect to the network and eliminate the LED bottleneck. The researchers' achievements are promising, as their projects facilitate seamless communication across diverse environments, including space, air, ground, and underwater. Their innovative work holds the potential to revolutionize the way humanity interacts and collaborates in a connected world.


Works Cited

Sakharkar, Ashwini. “All-Light Communication Network Works in Space, Air, and Sea.” Tech Explorist, 3 Mar. 2024, Accessed 5 Mar. 2024.

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