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It's like using fiber optics to communicate – only without the fiber.

Imagine connecting to the Internet through the same room lights that brighten your day. A University of Virginia engineering professor and her former graduate student are already there.

Maite Brandt-Pearce, a professor in the Charles L. Brown Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Mohammad Noshad, now a postdoctoral fellow in the Electrical Engineering Department at Harvard University, have devised a way of using from light-emitting diode fixtures to carry signals to wireless devices at 300 megabits per second from each light. It's like having a whole wi-fi system all to yourself; using light waves, there would be more network access points than with , so less sharing of the wireless network.

"We developed a modulation algorithm that increases the throughput of data in [ communications]," Brandt-Pearce said. "We can transmit more data without using any additional energy. As more light fixtures get replaced with LED lights, you can have different access points to the same network."

Their breakthrough means that data can be transmitted faster with light waves using no more energy than is already required to run the lights.

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