Industry collaboration paves the way for top Photonics award

LiFi works on the same idea as WiFi, but uses modulated visible and infrared light.

A collaboration between a Strathclyde Professor and his team and an industry partner has resulted in them winning a top photonics award.

SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, has recognised  Kyocera SLD Laser (KSLD), a world leader in commercialisation of laser light sources, with an award for its Laser Light LiFi system.

It follows on from a collaboration between Professor Harald Haas, Director of the LiFi Research and Development Centre (LRDC) at Strathclyde and the company on advancing laser-based free-space optical communications.

LiFi works on the same idea as WiFi, but instead of using modulated radio waves for wireless data communications, it uses modulated visible and infrared light.

Critical enabler

It is poised to revolutionise multiple applications, including vehicle to vehicle infrastructure (V2X) communications, which is a critical enabler for connected and autonomous vehicles, as well as underwater and satellite communications. 

Professor Haas, who coined the term ‘LiFi’ and pioneered many technologies for LiFi systems said: "The mission of the LiFi Centre is to accelerate the development of LiFi as a major global industry, through creating the pipeline for innovative ideas, technologies, products and partnerships.

It has been a privilege to work with KSLD on advancing laser-based free-space optical communications. We are delighted for them to win a prestigious Prism Award at Photonics West this year.

Kathleen Hartnett from KSLD  said: “This is another milestone which proves that free-space optical communications and LiFi are technologies that solve currently challenges in wireless communications and that these technologies hold the potential to become the major wireless technology in the 21st century."

Nobel winner

The laser was co-developed by Nobel prize winner, Professor Shuji Nakamura, who invented the blue LED, which revolutionised lighting, and who was awarded the prize in 2014.

He co-founded SLD Laser in 2013, which was acquired by Kyocera in 2021.

The LiFi Centre has been working with KSLD on the communication protocols for Laser Light sources and has developed proof-of-concept prototypes.

The annual Prism ceremony honours companies applying innovative and creative solutions to critical problems in areas such as augmented and virtual reality, sensors, lasers, quantum technology, and biomedical optical solutions.  SPIE received 76 entries from 19 countries.

The winners, who reflect the latest developments, and technical innovations across photonics and photonics-enabled industries, were announced on 1 February in San Francisco.

SPIE CEO Kent Rochford said: “The Prism Awards always showcase an impressive spectrum of innovative solutions based on optics and photonics technology.