Imagine being able to communicate with a spaceship that is 10 million miles away from Earth using nothing but a laser beam. Sounds like science fiction, right? Well, not anymore. NASA has just achieved this feat for the first time in history, opening up new possibilities for exploring the solar system and beyond.
This is an example of light-based communications, also known as optical or laser communications, which are a form of wireless communication that uses light waves to transmit information. Unlike radio frequency communications, which use electromagnetic waves with longer wavelengths and lower frequencies, light based communications use electromagnetic waves with shorter wavelengths and higher frequencies, ranging from infrared to ultraviolet. This allows light based communications to carry more information in a single transmission, as well as consume less power, offer more security, and avoid the congestion and interference of the radio spectrum. However, light based communications also face some challenges, such as the attenuation of light by the atmosphere, the need for precise alignment and pointing of the transmitters and receivers, and the susceptibility to weather conditions and obstacles.
Light-based communications are not only used in space, but also on Earth, where they have various applications and benefits. One of the applications of light based communications on Earth is Li-Fi, which stands for light fidelity. Li-Fi is a technology that uses visible light, such as LED lamps, to provide wireless internet access. Li-Fi has the potential to offer faster, more reliable, and more secure internet access than Wi-Fi, as well as reduce the demand for radio frequency spectrum. However, Li-Fi also has some limitations, such as the need for direct line of sight between the light source and the device, the inability to penetrate walls and other objects, and the interference from ambient light sources.
Another application of light-based communications is in germicidal communication, which is a technology that uses ultraviolet light, specifically Far-UVC light, to transmit data while simultaneously sterilizing air and surfaces. Far-UVC light is a specific spectrum of ultraviolet light that can kill bacteria and viruses without harming human skin and eyes. Far-UVC light also uses data frequencies in the terahertz range, which are not affected by solar interference and can provide high data rates. The system modulates the light to encode data and demodulates the light to decode data. The system also uses artificial intelligence to adjust the output power and frequency depending on the bio-agent threat conditions.
Light based communications are a promising technology that could revolutionize the way we communicate on Earth and in space. By using light waves to transmit information, light based communications can offer higher data rates, lower power consumption, more security, and less interference than radio frequency communications. However, light based communications also face some technical and practical challenges, such as the attenuation and alignment of the light, the weather and environmental conditions, and the compatibility and availability of the infrastructure and equipment. How will light based communications overcome these challenges and become more widely adopted and accessible? How will light based communications impact the fields of science, engineering, education, entertainment, and more? How will light based communications change the way we explore and understand the universe? These are some of the questions and challenges that light based communications pose for the future.