Today, one of the most widespread technologies in the world is Wi-Fi (Wireless Fidelity). But what about alternative ways of transmitting data? Scientists continue to explore them. In particular, it is worth highlighting the technology of plasma Internet and quantum communication, which in the future have a fairly high chance of application. It is about them that we will talk further.
Li-Fi technology: what it is and how it works
The term "Li-Fi" is an abbreviation of the English term "Light Fidelity". Accordingly, plasma Internet is a fast wireless system of information transmission using visible light instead of radio waves, as in Wi-Fi. The goal of Li-Fi developers is to achieve a hundred times faster data transmission speed compared to the familiar Wi-Fi technology.
German physicist Harald Haas is considered the inventor of Light Fidelity technology. In 2011, in laboratory conditions, he used an ordinary LED lamp as a router and achieved a data transfer rate of 224 Gbps. In the same year, the scientist demonstrated his findings at the TED Global conference. But due to the rather sceptical thoughts of the public, Haas only four years later created the first prototype of the device, which fully met his vision.
The convenience of Li-Fi technology is that there is no need to use intermediary devices in the data transmission process. And transceivers with LEDs can not only exchange information in large volumes, but also illuminate rooms.
Li-Fi and Wi-Fi: a technology comparison
What Li-Fi and Wi-Fi technologies have in common is that they use similar IEEE 802.11 protocols. However, Light Fidelity uses visible light electromagnetic waves and Wireless Fidelity uses radio waves, hence the differences between the two. In particular, when compared to Wi-Fi technology, Li-Fi has its pros and cons.
- Has a wider bandwidth.
- Provides higher data transfer speeds.
- Is more secure in terms of information transfer.
- Helps optimise energy costs by combining lighting system and hot spots.
- Does not interfere with the network when operating Li-Fi-enabled devices.
- Has a smaller coverage area.
- Cannot be organised outdoors in sunlight.
- Does not work in the dark without LED lights.
But it is unlikely that Light Fidelity will replace Wireless Fidelity. Most likely, LED routers will be used in tandem with Wi-Fi due to unresolved issues.
Potential applications of Li-Fi technology
Among the fields and areas that are already most in need of the introduction of Li-Fi technology today are:
- Smart lighting. Such a system in the smart home will certainly use Li-Fi, because the technology of data transmission with the help of LEDs is able to replace any other wireless and wired systems.
- Interactive wireless devices and toys. They will always be able to keep in touch with the network without additional means due to the almost ubiquitous presence of lamps, table lamps, chandeliers, spotlights, etc.
- Mobile connectivity. When it is vacated by other technologies that are no longer in use, it will get a large range of additional frequencies.
- Underwater operations. Provided that the intensity of radiation is sufficient, LEDs can be used to transmit a signal when carrying out work underwater, because the liquid does not extinguish it.
- Dangerous or military facilities. This includes aircraft cabins, operating theatres and intensive care units, as well as other places where the use of the Internet could previously threaten safety or interfere with the functioning of equipment.
- Transport networks and navigation systems. Technology will help connect them directly and thus help improve traffic, pedestrian and transport safety.
- Gadgets and laptops. Smartphones, tablets, laptops will get simple, stable, high-speed and, what is important, maximally secure Internet connection.
In favour of the spread of Li-Fi technology is the fact that:
- Installing a few more small electronic units in the room is not a problem.
- Externally, LED lamps are almost no different from conventional lamps.
- The user network does not require special retrofitting, because in any flat or house there are enough lights and sockets to connect the necessary devices.
Quantum Internet: history of emergence and research
Every year, the security and efficiency of communication systems becomes more and more important. And such a revolutionary technology as the quantum Internet promises to increase the confidentiality and protection of information to the level that it is virtually impossible to lose or intercept it.
Quantum computers are able to work many times faster than the most powerful supercomputers that exist today. But it is possible on condition of creation of special computer network within which information transfer is carried out. At the beginning of the discovery of quantum communication, only two devices were involved in this process. But in 2014, scientists from Delft Technical University (Netherlands) managed to combine three machines in one system at the same time and thus expand the capabilities of the technology at a short distance.
The experiment was successful due to the so-called quantum teleportation, which is also called entanglement. This phenomenon involves the transfer of data between objects without moving the matter where it is stored. As a result, in such a system there is no intermediate channel of information transmission (in Wi-Fi connection such a channel is servers), which makes it more secure. In this case, an inseparable link is established between the objects interacting with each other, due to which the state of one directly affects the state of the other, regardless of the distance between them. This form of interaction has been called "quantum communication".
To transmit information, quantum communication uses qubits — the quantum equivalent of classical bits, which can exist in several states simultaneously. This feature, called superposition, allows huge amounts of data to be transmitted in the time it would take using traditional communication methods, providing a unique level of security.
Entangled quantum systems can consist of electrons, photons or other quantum objects. The behaviour of such particles at the atomic and subatomic levels is studied by a separate branch of physics called quantum mechanics.
Since the discovery of quantum teleportation, there have been significant advances in research into the phenomenon:
- 2015: a team of scientists from the American National Institute of Standards and Technology teleported photons over a fibre optic cable to a distance of 102 km;
- 2017: China launched the world's first quantum satellite, Micius, which demonstrated the possibility of long-distance quantum communication — between a ground station and the Mo-ji satellite in Earth orbit, which is 1,400 kilometres away;
- 2019: Google unveiled to the world the first working quantum computer that can operate in the presence of a computer network;
- 2021: a group of scientists from the US managed to transmit a quantum state 44 km away with over 90% accuracy over a fibre optic network.
Prospects for the development of the quantum Internet
Given the continuous progress in the research of quantum Internet technology, it has an unremarkable potential to provide extremely secure communications in the future.
But along with the significant advances in quantum communication research, there are several "but" that have so far prevented this technology from being fully realised in our lives:
A reliable way of storing and processing quantum information is needed. After all, unlike classical computers, which can easily store and process bits, quantum analogues are still under development. In addition, to maintain the integrity of qubits over long distances, more reliable quantum communication protocols need to be developed.
Integration of quantum communication systems with existing classical networks is needed. Since most of the world's digital infrastructure is based on classical communication methods, we need to learn how to efficiently convert quantum information into classical bits and vice versa. This will ensure seamless communication between quantum and classical devices.
If these problems are solved, quantum technology will be able to help in the development of new drugs, strengthen the defence of strategic objects, enhance the capabilities of artificial intelligence, and be applied in many other industries.
Given the advances in quantum and plasma Internet research, we can expect to see such methods of information transfer into our lives in the not too distant future. Although we are not talking about a complete replacement of Wi-Fi, in combination with this standard, the use of new technologies will be a step towards safer and more efficient communication.