Lasers poised to supercharge underwater communications

Li-Fi, the technology which allows light in the visible spectrum to be used to transfer data, will someday soon give us all super-fast Internet connectivity through our desk lamps. That eventuality, however, won't only benefit those sitting at their desk. Submarines and ROVs already communicate by something like Li-Fi, though their data speeds aren't exactly impressive.

Silent, localized underwater communication is clearly something submarine captains could use to their benefit, but current tech tops out at one gigahertz. That's slower than even the crummier Wi-Fi connections out there, which is why underwater vessels tend to rely on acoustic systems. Thankfully, a new technology under development at the University of California San Diego (UCSD) will use meta materials to boost these underwater Li-Fi speeds by up to 76 times by increasing the maximum rate at which the light sources transferring the data flicker.

The tech recently garnered UCSD professor Zhaowei Liu a $500,000 grant to make these high-speed underwater data connections a reality in the next three years. If he's successful, Liu could easily get Li-Fi connections working on submarines before we even have the chance to test it out top-side. Of course, this faster blink-rate could also find its way to increasing the download speeds of your Li-Fi enabled desk lamp, already theorized to be capable of hitting 10 GBPS in the next year or so. Either way, the bright, shiny future of high-speed data rates is coming, and it's coming soon.

Via UCSD

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