Li-Fi crucial to the future of lighting, says LED inventor

Laser lighting is currently being used in cars, but the technology is not cheap, something that is set to hold back the product's commercialisation. 

Shuji Nakamura, the man who won the Nobel Prize for inventing the blue LED, has named Li-Fi as crucial to the future of lighting technology.

Speaking at Academia Sinica, in Taipei, Dr. Nakamura stated that LED has now reached a ‘stage of maturity’ and manufacturers are seeking out new markets where they can thrive into the future.

Nakamura named Li-Fi and laser lighting as two crucial areas the LED industry needs to concentrate on in order to further their businesses successfully.

The Nobel Laureate also stated in his lecture that there has been areas in which the advancement of LED has surpassed even his expectations.

For example, researchers in Taipei have recently begun using LEDs to separate malignant cancer cells from normal cells.

Most recently, Nakamura has been dedicating his time to developing laser lighting, which he hopes, will one day replace LED.

Laser lighting has already been used successfully in car development. Automotive headlights that feature laser lighting are able to project light as far as 600 metres, which is much longer than the 300 metres managed by LED.

Nakamura predicted that should Li-Fi and laser lighting combine, then the Li-Fi technology would be able to transfer data at speeds up to one hundred times faster than Wi-Fi can currently manage.

However, laser lighting does not currently have the same efficiency benefits as LED and is, in comparison with LED, quite expensive, costing up to ten times more than its sister technology.

Nakamura is currently teaching at the University of California in Santa Barbara, with his two fellow researchers, Isamu Akasaki and Hiroshi Amano, who together received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2014 for ‘developing the manufacturing technology of the blue LED and fostering the emergence of bright, power-saving white LED.’

You can watch Lux's interview with Shuji Nakamura here

Comments 2

@William K. – Of course lighting manufacturers and installers are pushing for LiFi despite the obvious limitations of the technology! Imagine all the new lighting fixtures that will have to be sold and installed if we were to replace radio waves by light for data transfer... You can't really expect the lighting industry to be objective in this LiFi vs. WiFi debate after all, its own interests are at stakes.

There is no benefit to any besides those who profit from sales and installation of "LiFi." Yes, it works, BUT sending data in the opposite direction still requires hardware that is not part of the lighting system. Wireless connections already provide that, and have the added advantage of functioning when the lights are off. Even handier, RF connectivity works right through walls and many other obstructions. Beyond that, upstream transmission via light will require more power than using RF , and probably require aiming the beam at the receiver, since light travels in straight lines, mostly. Where the LiFi concept could work is in one-way broadcasting, such as in museums and for assisting the hearing-impaired folks at meetings. But those areas are niche markets lacking an adequate number of users to make big-time production worthwhile.

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