The technology uses laser light to transmit information through the atmosphere, clocking bandwidth equal to fiber optic speeds using very little power.
Wireless communications have so far depended on radio frequencies and microwaves. This light-based wireless communication is also called free-space optical communications, and offers promising prospects of bringing connectivity to areas inaccessible by fiber optics and cell towers.
While laser-based wireless communication is not new, a primary challenge has been the inability to precisely aim a tiny laser beam carrying the data, at tiny light detectors some distance away.
To overcome this challenge, the scientists at Facebook used fluorescent materials to collect light and concentrate it onto a small photodetector, instead of traditional optics.
This fluorescent light detector featuring 126 sq cm of surface area, was able to absorb and emit light to any direction. Plastic optical fibers fitted with organic dye molecules absorb blue light and emit green light. Combined with existing telecommunications technology, the researchers achieved data rates of more than 2 gigabits-per-second.
This super-high speed was achieved because there is a two nanosecond time lapse between the blue light absorption and the green light emission.
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