Researchers demonstrate use of solar cells for fast underwater wireless communication

Industry Insights

In a new development, researchers demonstrate that solar cells can be used to attain underwater wireless optical communication digressing from their typical use to turn light into power. The use of solar cells for wireless optical communication employs an array of solar cells connected as series as detectors, and this could serve as a cost-effective, low-energy method to transmit data underwater.

The need for efficient underwater communication to meet the increasing demand of underwater data exchange in ocean protection activities worldwide is critical, stated lead researcher behind the development. For example, to conserve coral reef conservation efforts, data links are required to transmit data from manned submarines, divers, underwater sensors, and unmanned underwater vehicles to surface ships that support such pursuits.

The findings of the research published in Optics Letters comprises reporting of laboratory experiments in which they used a range of commercially sold solar cells to design an optimized system that does not require lens for optical detection underwater at high speed. Solar cells provide a much wider detection area than photodiodes that are conventionally used as detecting devices in wireless optical communication.

The highest bandwidth achieved for a commercial silicon solar panel-based optical communication system with a large detection area demonstrated to the best of knowledge of researchers. This type of system could even allow power generation and data exchange with one device.

In fact, light-based underwater wireless communication displays higher speed, lower latency, and requires less power as compared to using acoustic or radio waves. However, most high-speed long distance optical systems are practically not meant for underwater use because they require solid alignment between the transmitter that transmits light and the receiver that detects incoming light signal.

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