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19 October 2012High speed GaN micro-light-emitting diode arrays for data communications
Micro light-emitting diode (micro-LED) arrays based on an AlInGaN structure have attracted much interest recently as
light sources for data communications. Visible light communication (VLC), over free space or plastic optical fibre (POF), has become a very important technique in the role of data transmission. The micro-LEDs which are reported here contain pixels ranging in diameter from 14 to 84μm and can be driven directly using a high speed probe or via complementary metal-oxide semiconductor (CMOS) technology. The CMOS arrays allow for easy, computer control of
individual pixels within arrays containing up to 16×16 elements. The micro-LEDs best suited for data transmission have
peak emissions of 450nm or 520nm, however various other wavelengths across the visible spectrum can also be used.
Optical modulation bandwidths of over 400MHz have been achieved as well as error-free (defined as an error rate of
<1x10-10) data transmission using on-off keying (OOK) non-return-to-zero (NRZ) modulation at data rates of over
500Mbit/s over free space. Also, as a step towards a more practical multi-emitter data transmitter, the frequency response of a micro-LED integrated with CMOS circuitry was measured and found to be up to 185MHz. Despite the reduction in bandwidth compared to the bare measurements using a high speed probe, a good compromise is achieved from the additional control available to select each pixel. It has been shown that modulating more than one pixel simultaneously can increase the data rate. As work continues in this area, the aim will be to further increase the data transmission rate by modulating more pixels on a single device to transmit multiple parallel data channels simultaneously.
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Scott Watson, Jonathan J. D. McKendry, Shuailong Zhang, David Massoubre, Bruce R. Rae, Richard P. Green, Erdan Gu, Robert K. Henderson, A. E. Kelly, Martin D. Dawson, "High speed GaN micro-light-emitting diode arrays for data communications," Proc. SPIE 8540, Unmanned/Unattended Sensors and Sensor Networks IX, 85400G (19 October 2012);