The co-founder of an Edinburgh spin-out that uses light to transmit information has received a global award for his work on the technology.
Professor Harald Haas, chief scientific officer at PureLiFi, was presented with the International Solid State Lighting Alliance (ISA) award for outstanding achievement by Shuji Nakamura, who won the Nobel prize for physics in 2014.
LiFi is like an undiscovered beach full of pebble stonesHarald Haas
The accolade, handed out at the 13th International Forum on Solid State Lighting in Beijing, relates to Haas’s contribution to diversifying the applications of solid state lighting (SSL) technology.
Haas said: “It has been such a great honour to receive this prestigious award, which I would like to devote to everyone who supported me on this 14-year journey.
“LiFi is like an undiscovered beach full of pebble stones – under each stone there is something new and exciting to discover, and what is really thrilling is that these discoveries can change our lives and create massive commercial opportunities.”
PureLiFi, formed in 2012 as a spin-off from the University of Edinburgh, is now carrying out a major trial of its system in Singapore. The company’s tie-up with the city state’s Info-communications Development Media Authority marks the first time a city has embraced the technology on such a large scale.
The trial in Singapore comes after the country’s sovereign wealth fund, Temasek, led a funding round that took the total raised by PureLiFi to more than £7 million.
Haas has been described as the “father of LiFi” and is credited with coining the term, which stands for “light fidelity”. The technology has the potential to be significantly faster than current WiFi systems and can turn everday lamps into wireless internet access points.
The ISA jury said that Haas, who established the world’s first LiFi research and development centre at the University of Edinburgh in 2013, has “not only pioneered the novel concept of communication by lighting devices, but also publicised the technology earning him the recognition as the father of LiFi”.
“This is a considerable contribution to diversify the applications of SSL technology and open up new markets,” they added. “His scientific-technical achievement certainly deserves to be awarded.”
PureLiFi chief executive Alistair Banham said: “The honour Professor Harald Haas has received from this important organisation is a real indication of his contribution to science and technology as a whole. Harald is the global thought leader in LiFi and the path to innovation he has created for us will change the way the world connects in a high-speed wireless future.”