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Martínez, J.; Osorio-Roman, I.; Gualdrón-Reyes, A.F. Applications of Luminescent Materials in Visible Light Communication. Encyclopedia. Available online: (accessed on 19 July 2024).
Martínez J, Osorio-Roman I, Gualdrón-Reyes AF. Applications of Luminescent Materials in Visible Light Communication. Encyclopedia. Available at: Accessed July 19, 2024.
Martínez, Javier, Igor Osorio-Roman, Andrés F. Gualdrón-Reyes. "Applications of Luminescent Materials in Visible Light Communication" Encyclopedia, (accessed July 19, 2024).
Martínez, J., Osorio-Roman, I., & Gualdrón-Reyes, A.F. (2023, June 27). Applications of Luminescent Materials in Visible Light Communication. In Encyclopedia.
Martínez, Javier, et al. "Applications of Luminescent Materials in Visible Light Communication." Encyclopedia. Web. 27 June, 2023.
Applications of Luminescent Materials in Visible Light Communication

The growing demand for faster data transference and communication allowed the development of faster and more efficient communication network-based technologies, with wider bandwidth capability, high resilience to electromagnetic radiation, and low latency for information travelling. To provide a suitable alternative to satisfy data transmission and consumption demand, wireless systems were established after studies on this topic. Visible light communication (VLC) processes were incorporated as interesting wireless approaches that make use of a wide frequency communication spectrum to reach higher bandwidth values and accelerate the speed of data/information transmission. For this aim, light converters, such as phosphor materials, are reported to efficiently convert blue light into green, yellow, and red emissions; however, long carrier lifetimes are achieved to enlarge the frequency bandwidth, thereby delaying the data transference rate.

luminescent materials visible light communication radiative recombination light conversion

1. Introduction

With the purpose of ensuring the increase in the speed of both data transmission and consumption, advanced strategies were previously studied to overcome the limitations imposed by using radio-frequency technology, establishing efficient optical communication approaches, such as wireless network systems [1][2]. Among the most prominent alternatives used to accelerate information transference, visible light communication (VLC) is highlighted due to its use of solid-state light (SSL) converters, enabling access to a wide bandwidth in the scale of THz [3][4]. This fact allows users to carry out wireless communication across the electromagnetic spectrum from UV to NIR [4]. One of the main light sources for VLC is based on light-emitting diodes (LEDs), where a phosphor-based active layer is incorporated into a device to absorb the blue light coming from a commercial component, usually InGaN, and re-emits illumination at larger wavelengths [5][6][7]. This configuration produces luminescent white color LEDs (WLEDs) with high color purity and an improved color rendering index (CRI) [8][9][10], facilitating the development and subsequent commercialization of LEDs-based technologies, such as lighting systems, LCD displays, organic-LEDs (OLEDs), etc.
VLC systems are generally based on light link between a blue-emitting LED, a luminescent active layer, and a photodiode. The composed LED device, which produces the illumination, is named the emitter subsystem, while the photodiode, which receives the signal coming from the LED, is known as the receiver subsystem [11]. Next, the emitter obtains the signal from a signal generator, which imposes a bias current to drive the LED. Here, the signal that reaches the LED (known as the original binary response) is previously transformed through encoding, modulation, and pre-equalization processes, before being converted into a digital signal to modulate the light intensity of the emitting device [12]. The LED into the VLC system must work continuously while the data are transmitted, and, simultaneously, the power stage ensures that the emitted light serves as a continuous illumination source. At this point, the electrical signals are transformed into an optical response, which contains all the information through its frequency [13]. Clearly, the frequency bandwidth will depend on the intrinsic properties of the luminescent material employed as the active layer, and commonly, a long-pass optical filter is introduced to filter out the remanent blue-light emitted by the LED. After the light transmission step, the optical signal is collected through the optical lens (transmitter and receiver ones, Tx and Rx, respectively) with the purpose of enhancing the signal strength to reach the photodiode and extend the transmission distance [13]. Interestingly, the modulated light can travel through open spaces, such as air or water. Lastly, the photodiode perceives the optical signal (also called the original transmission response), transforming it into an electrical response, and treats it under the post-equalization, demodulation, and decoding processes to obtain the desired digital signal [11].
One of the most useful SSL converters is based on yellow phosphors, such as Y3Al5O12:Ce3+ (YAG:Ce), providing high performance and brightness to the WLEDs; however, this luminescent species shows a long excited state lifetime (in the microscale range) [14][15][16]. This intrinsic characteristic only favors the accessibility to a bandwidth of a few MHz, restricting the frequency modulation and, thereby, limiting the speed of the wireless communication [17]. To overcome these drawbacks, several strategies were applied, such as (i) the optimization of the LED structure, where the resistance and capacitance of the device components are reduced to accelerate the carrier recombination dynamics [18][19]; and (ii) the blue-filtering process [20][21], which is pivotal to suppressing the parasite signals produced by phosphor emitters. Unfortunately, these enhancements extended the modulation bandwidth by ~30 MHz, which is insufficient for VLC [7]. Thus, it is deductible that novel materials for light conversion with faster radiative recombination, high brightness, and notable optical features are needed to strengthen the wireless communication technologies.
In this quest, some organic semiconductors, such as oligofluorenes [4][22] or composed polymers [23], were employed as light converters for VLC due to their low-energy band gap (yellow emission), high photoluminescence quantum yield (PLQY), fast radiative recombination lifetimes, and facile integration with commercial blue-emitting nitride-based LEDs. Under this premise, two-color white light emission can be produced, for instance, for VLC datalink applications [17]. However, CRI values of ~57% are obtained, indicating the difficulty of obtaining a stable and high color purity in the white color tonality [7]. Therefore, the preparation of light converters based on green- and red-PL emission is primordial to combination with blue-LEDs, extending the broadband luminescence of the final device to increase the CRI. More specifically, among the red-emissive organic tools with high PLQY and favored radiative recombination rates, the actual state-of-the-art elements are limited to show high-quality blue-light emitters with the strong optical power required to generate a suitable signal-to-noise ratio for the modulation of bandwidth in VLC. In conclusion, research groups are focused on the preparation of green-light emission-based converters, which can absorb the blue-light from the LEDs. This process allows access to low wavelengths from the visible spectrum, transferring carriers to red-light emitters to cover a wider energy spectrum, including red-IR range [22].

2. Applications of Luminescent Materials in VLC

The preparation PNCs with versatile surface chemistry were adequate for the VLC applications, such as Li-Fi (Light Fidelity) systems, which, unlike conventional Wi-Fi (Wireless Fidelity), are bidirectional wireless communication processes mediated using visible light. A typical Li-Fi system is based on a couple of high quantity of transmitters (LEDs) and signal receivers that match the demand of high-speed wireless communication and multiuser interaction [24][25]. As they make data transference as fast as possible, electroluminescent fibers are the most important communication line between the emitter diode and the receptor in the wireless optical system, offering a high emission color quality and the fabrication of an inexpensive process. Organic materials and polymers were employed as OLEDs to obtain efficient Li-Fi; however, these tools require a high turn-on voltage to mobilize ions into the device, slowing the data transmission. Therefore, the use of PNCs inks represents a low-cost alternative to create light-emitting/detecting bifunctional fibers, with narrow electroluminescence linewidth; as well as creating a small exciton binding energy, which mediates a favored carrier transport to enable the fast travel of information into the wireless tools [25]. As depicted above, LEDs based on orange- or red-light emission develop 0.7–1 GHz modulation bandwidths and a real-time data transmission near to 2 Gbps.
Another type of wireless application is related to the underwater optical communication (UWOC), which attends to the fact that radio frequency suffers from a high attenuation in water, and, therefore, the infrared signal cannot propagate effectively in this medium [26]. In this context, stable underwater emitters with good PL properties, fast radiative recombination pathway and low light attenuation are key factors that influence the transmission distance, frequency bandwidth and data rate [27]. However, the ionic nature of the PNCs hinders their applicability in polar solvents, causing a rapid quenching of their emission features. In this way, it was reported the introduction of PNCs into the amorphous glass avoided direct interaction between water and the nanoparticles, making them viable for use in a UWOC system [28].


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