APPLIED OPTICS

Adding communication to light harvesting

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Science  28 Aug 2015:
Vol. 349, Issue 6251, pp. 940-941
DOI: 10.1126/science.349.6251.940-b

Solar cells are often thought of as passive devices sitting on a rooftop, benignly soaking up sunlight and converting it into useful electricity. On the smaller scale, they can be integrated into electrical devices, removing the need for a battery. Zhang et al. now show that solar cells can also function as data detectors. Using visible light communication, a wireless medium in which information can be encoded and transferred as an optical signal piggybacking on the light from an LED source, they demonstrate high-speed data communication. The flexibility and relatively low cost of organic solar cells provide the possibility of integrating such self-powered devices into the “Internet of things.”

Optica 2, 607 (2015).

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