Gb/s underwater wireless optical communications using series-connected GaN micro-LED arrays

Arvanitakis, Georgios N. and Bian, Rui and McKendry, Jonathan J. D. and Cheng, Chen and Xie, Enyuan and HE, Xiangyu and Yang, Gang and Islim, Mohamed Sufyan and Purwita, Ardimas A. and Gu, Erdan and Haas, Harald and Dawson, Martin D. (2020) Gb/s underwater wireless optical communications using series-connected GaN micro-LED arrays. IEEE Photonics Journal, 12 (2). pp. 1-10. 7901210. ISSN 1943-0655 (

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High speed wireless communications are highly desirable for many industrial and scientific underwater applications. Acoustic communications suffer from high latency and limited data rates, while Radio Frequency communications are severely limited by attenuation in seawater. Optical communications are a promising alternative, offering high transmission rates (up to Gb/s), while water has relatively low attenuation at visible wavelengths. Here we demonstrate the use of series-connected micro-light-emitting-diode (μLED) arrays consisting of 6 μLED pixels either 60 μm or 80 μm in diameter and operating at 450 nm. These devices increase the output power whilst maintaining relatively high modulation bandwidth. Using orthogonal frequency division multiplexing (OFDM) we demonstrate underwater wireless data transmission at rates of up to 4.92 Gb/s, 3.22 Gb/s and 3.4 Gb/s over 1.5 m, 3 m and 4.5 m, respectively, with corresponding bit error ratios (BERs) of 1.5×10-3, 1.1×10-3 and 3.1×10-3, through clear tap water, and Mb/s rates through >5 attenuation lengths (ALs) in turbid waters.