Under the auspices of the National Science Foundation (NSF), Pennsylvania State University (PSU) and the Georgia Institute of Technology (GT) are collaborating in an Industry/University Cooperative Research Center on Optical Wireless Applications (COWA). The COWA Industrial Advisory Board (IAB) members are industrial leaders who meet in bi-annual meetings with COWA faculty and student members to evaluate the potentials of the interdisciplinary research Center activities, in providing leadership to develop new generation of environment-friendly, extremely wideband optical and/or wireless technology applications, employing solid-state devices for communications, networking, imaging, positioning and remote sensing. The research and development effort in North America on optical wireless and its applications are not commensurate with the potentially broad societal improvements. This is an emerging important area, with a great potential and many industries will benefit from the research.
The Center is based on the integration of interdisciplinary expertise at PSU, and GT with devices and systems-based engineering design and networking concepts. The two institutions are leaders in this field.
The primary goals of this
center are to initiate formal partnerships with various industry
partners and research laboratories that have an interest in optical
wireless applications designs, and to discuss fundamental issues and
topics for research. are:
Demands by the communications industry for greater and greater bandwidth push the capability of conventional wireless technology. Part of the Radio Spectrum that is suitable for mobility is very limited. Only up to 1.9 GHz contains allocation for what is known as cellular band where due to reflections-induced multipath, high-quality service non-line-of-sight mobility is feasible. Moving to higher frequencies, due to higher path-loss, the number of dropped calls increases. Digital video and internet data offering in these bands have caused the current Radio Airwaves Spectrum Crunch.
Sorry, America: Your wireless airwaves are full
Source: David Goldman - CNNMoneyTech February 21, 2012
Waves in very-high frequency bands tend to travel only a few miles or less and generally do not penetrate solid materials very well. This offers a sustainable solution to ease the radio access and to help ease the current radio airwaves spectrum crunch.
One mission of our CENTER is to demonstrate practical and usable networks using high radio frequencies and optical waveforms that can provide very efficient spectrum utilization through “selective spectrum reuse”, and naturally increase the security of transmissions.
Optical communications have a far greater bandwidth. This means new devices and systems have to be developed. This CENTER addresses this new technological sector. The students will be the workforce to propel the industry into this new technology.
Two branches of optical wireless have emerged contemporaneously, as explained below.
In one branch, semiconductor Light Emitting Diode (LED) is considered to be the future primary lighting source for buildings, automobiles and aircrafts. LED provides higher energy efficiency (higher Luminous Efficacy) compared to incandescent and fluorescent light sources and it will play a major role in the global reduction of carbon dioxide emissions, as a consequence of the significant energy savings. Lasers are also under investigation for similar applications. These core devices have the potential to revolutionize how we use light, including not only for illumination, but as well for communications, sensing, navigation, positioning, surveillance, and imaging in an Environmentally-Friendly manner.
Data Communications by Light
In the second branch, wired optical networks and various wireless networks are merged. Each of the optical wireless networks has its unique applications, message coding, security features and technology for sending and receiving messages. Among applications in this area are; multi-band, multi-service wireless over optical access, distributed radio-over-fiber access network for cloud-computing, broadband millimeter-wave wireless sensor communications, and microwave photonics for integrated multi-gigabit wireless systems.
Broadband Access -Radio over Fiber
The Center intends to attract a vertically integrated set of companies from device manufacturers to systems and networks integrators. As a major goal, the center undeniably sets the directions for researching and developing the transformative potentials of mm-wave, infra-red, visible, and ultra-violet light, a new era of LED's, lasers, and other light sources, which will not only provide energy efficient lighting, but also offer a means for wireless broadband connectivity, human-vision-friendly imaging, and reliable distributed sensing. This is done through offering innovative designs, functionality and performance.
Visible Light Communications
Visible Light (VL) Applications are emerging technology areas that utilize the high-speed switching properties of Visible Light LEDs for wireless data applications with data rates higher than conventional 802.11 wireless networks and additional benefits of:
Wireless High-Resolution Video Communications by IR
The VL technology has potential in a number of specialized application areas including the following:
The knowledge discovered during the exploratory phase of the projects can bring about major advancements in the performance of various classes of computers from server machines to supercomputers; the proposed concepts based on LEDs and Lasers will be beneficial to society and important to maintain leadership in communications technology.
W.L. Weiss Professor of Electrical Engineering and Center Director,
The Pennsylvania State University
229 EE West Building
University Park, PA 16802
Phone: (814) 865-7179
GA Tech Site Director
Research Alliance and Byers Eminent Scholar Chair Professor in Optical
Networking, Telecommunications, Optics and Photonics
Atlanta, GA. 30332
Phone: (404) 365-2712
Center Operations Manager
The Pennsylvania State University
121 EE East Building
University Park, PA 16802
Phone: (814) 865-2356
About the Sponsors
National Science Foundation (NSF) is the leading government agency that sponsors research in multi-disciplinary science and engineering fields. NSF's Directorate of Engineering (Industrial Innovation and Partnerships) and Directorate of Computer & Information Science & Engineering collaborates on establishing Industry/University Cooperative Research Centers in new technology areas.
Through various phases of funding, I/UCRCs, NSF facilitates a forum for academia and industry to join their forces together in investigating fundamental fields in science and engineering. The I/UCRC on Optical Wireless Applications has been endowed with an NSF grant to promote promising optical wireless research through an exchange of future visions between universities and industries, which is imperative for its establishment.
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