Applied Physics

Optical Wireless

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Science  16 Jul 2010:
Vol. 329, Issue 5989, pp. 258-259
DOI: 10.1126/science.329.5989.258-c

Numerous homes and offices are kitted out with wireless communication systems, with many components now capable of sharing a single or coupled set of routers and access points to the internet. Radio-based wireless is affected by interference, tight regulation over which bands of the frequency spectrum can be used, and technological limitations on the bandwidth and information transfer rates that be attained. As the number of added components increases, however, the first thing to give is download speed. Van Acoleyen et al. show that optical wireless communication, in which very high bandwidth and rates of transmission are available, may provide a solution. They have designed a two-dimensional optical phased array antenna that is based on the silicon-on-insulator platform used extensively in the optoelectronics industry. The incoming optical information, which can be fed in by an optic fiber, is split and directed across an array of focusing gratings by a series of patterned on-chip waveguides. The light from the gratings can be beamed off-chip at an adjustable angle by tuning the input wavelength, and can then be captured and read out some distance away, providing the basis for an optical wireless communication technology.

Opt. Express 18, 13655 (2010).

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