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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/S001751/1
Title: Structured illumination and digital lighting at the few-photon level
Principal Investigator: Herrnsdorf, Dr JHL
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Aralia Systems Fraunhofer Institut (Multiple, Grouped)
Department: Inst of Photonics
Organisation: University of Strathclyde
Scheme: EPSRC Fellowship - NHFP
Starts: 29 June 2018 Ends: 31 January 2022 Value (£): 476,159
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Optoelect. Devices & Circuits
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Information Technologies
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
08 May 2018 EPSRC UKRI CL Innovation Fellowship Interview Panel 4 - 8 and 9 May 2018 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
In recent years, advances in semiconductor based photo-detectors have led to the development of simple and compact detectors that are sufficiently sensitive to detect a single photon incident on the sensing area. These devices had revolutionary impact on instrumentation for the life sciences, and now they are starting to open up new possibilities in optical wireless communications.

At the same time, there have been significant advances in the development of light-emitting diode (LED) based lighting, which is now becoming ubiquitous.

Within the last year, the applicant and his colleagues at the University of Strathclyde have pioneered a new method of optical wireless communications that uses LEDs as transmitters and a semiconductor single photon detector as receiver. Data can be transmitted at extremely low light levels of only 30 photons/bit. Utilising a special encoding scheme, which exploits the statistical distribution of single photon detection events, such a low signal level can be maintained even under the presence of normal ambient background light. This potentially disruptive technology can be scaled to multiple LED transmitters and multiple detectors operating in parallel, opening a vast range of possible applications in imaging, communications, space communications, and robotic control.

The driving vision of the project is to realise such a highly parallel system and link it to specific applications.

During the initial development of this technology it proved crucial to interface the transmitter and receiver with configurable digital electronics to perform digital signal processing (DSP). However, these DSP interfaces do not currently have the capability required for the envisaged parallel system. The applicant and his team will investigate the challenges in integrating essential functionality, such as e.g. clock synchronisation, into the DSP hardware. Their work will enable LED displays with 100 MHz frame rate, enhanced modulation formats, and transmitter interfaces for both active- and passive-matrix LED arrays.

The project involves a broad industrial engagement strategy centred around a close link between the University of Strathclyde and Fraunhofer UK, and capitalising on two recently filed patents. Fraunhofer UK is a knowledge transfer organisation dedicated to facilitating the translation of academic research into commercial development. The University and Fraunhofer are already collaborating on other subjects and the fellowship will enable the candidate to lead the technology transfer activities in this area.

Furthermore the applicant will directly engage with the Advanced Forming Research Centre, the Scottish Centre for Excelence in Satellite Applications, and Aralia Systems, which will help to apply the technology to the specific areas of digitally controlled manufacturing, satellite communications, and surveillance systems.

The applicant will utilise his network of academic and industrial contacts in the UK to extend the application and commercialisation of the technology beyond the above mentioned areas, e.g. to ultra-low power networking units for usage in the internet of things.

Key Findings
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Potential use in non-academic contexts
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Date Materialised
Sectors submitted by the Researcher
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Project URL:  
Further Information:  
Organisation Website: http://www.strath.ac.uk