Welcome to the web pages of EPSRC's Ultra-parallel visible light communications (UP-VLC) project.


Running from October 2012 to September 2016, UP-VLC is an ambitious EPSRC-funded £4.6 million Programme Grant which will explore the transformative technology of communications in an imaginative and foresighted way. The vision is built on the unique capabilities of gallium nitride (GaN) optoelectronics to combine optical communications with lighting functions, and especially on the capability to implement new forms of spatial multiplexing, where individual elements in high-density arrays of GaN based light emitting diodes (LEDs) provide independent communications channels, but can combine as displays. We envisage ultra-high data density - potentially Tb/s/mm2 - arrays of LEDs driven via CMOS control electronics in novel addressing and encoding schemes and in compact and versatile forms.

The project is a partnership between 6 research groups at 5 institutions. It is led by Professor M.D. Dawson of the University of Strathclyde and mentored by Professor  P. Blood of Cardiff University.  Some of the relevant technical expertise and background accomplishments brought by the partners of this project are illustrated in Fig.1.


  (a)                        (b)                              (c)                                (d)                                (e)

Fig.1 (a) high-fill-factor chequerboard (square grid) GaN LED/CMOS clusters (Strathclyde/Edinburgh), (b) 1Gb/s eye diagram from 84μm-diameter GaN micro-pixel LED (Strathclyde), (c) flexible organic semiconductor grating arrays for hybrid LEDs (Strathclyde/St. Andrews), (d) multiple channel VLC link (Oxford), (e) 124Mb/s real time video VLC transmission demonstration (Edinburgh).

Recently, by integrating CMOS electronics with GaN based micro-LEDs, we have developed CMOS-controlled color-tunable smart displays. The color-tunable LED pixels in these displays have a modulation bandwidth of 100 MHz, thus providing simultaneously a wavelength-agile source for high-speed visible light communications. The programmable dynamic images generated from such a micro-display system are shown below (red ‘Tetris’ and green Firework).


  • Members from the UP-VLC consortium will present several talks at the IEEE Photonics Conference, taking place in San Diego between 12th-16th October. In the IPC schedule the talks are "MG1.1", "WC3.4" "WF4.3" and an invited talk in the "Hot Papers" session taking place on Sunday 12th.
  • Joint work between the Universities of Oxford, St. Andrews, Edinburgh and Strathclyde has been published in a paper titled "Visible Light Communication Using a Blue GaN µLED and Fluorescent Polymer Color Converter" IEEE Photonics Technology Letters.
  • The previous UP-VLC project meeting was held at the University of Cambridge on the 30th of June and 1st of July 2014. The next meeting will be held on Tuesday 2nd December 2014 at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, together with a "Li-Fi vs. Wi-Fi" workshop on Monday 1st December. The first meeting of 2015 will be held in Oxford on 31st March and 1st April.
  • The UP-VLC project is featured in an article titled Optical Wireless Communications: The New “Hot Spots”? in the March 2014 edition of Optics and Photonics News, published by OSA.
  • Our publication "A 3-Gb/s Single-LED OFDM-based Wireless VLC Link Using a Gallium Nitride μLED" is now published and is available from the IEEE Photonics Technology Letters website.
  • Our recent results demonstrating 3.5 Gb/s transmission over free space, using a blue micro-LED, have been featured in this BBC news article.