Effect of sunlight on photovoltaics as optical wireless communication receivers

Sovan Das, Adrian Sparks, Enrique Poves, Stefan Videv, John Fakidis, Harald Haas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
14 Downloads (Pure)


This paper explores the effects of sunlight on using a low-cost off-the-shelf silicon solar panel as an optical wireless communication (OWC) receiver. A receiver circuit structure has been proposed to maximize simultaneous energy harvesting and data communication performance. An equivalent circuit model of the solar panel for simultaneous energy harvesting and wireless optical communication is discussed. By using the solar panel model, the effects of varying sunlight conditions on the performance of the model as an OWC receiver are estimated. Furthermore, an experimental setup is developed to study the effects and verify the simulated estimations. The experimental setup consists of a 3.5 m wireless optical link with a full Transmission Control Protocol and Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) network stack. The system uses DC-biased optical orthogonal frequency division multiplexing (DCO-OFDM) to use the available communication bandwidth efficiently. A 940 nm low-cost off-the-shelf laser device along with an off-the-shelf off-axis-parabolic mirror is used as the transmitter. The maximum user throughput achieved over the air is 28.3 Mb/s while simultaneously harvesting energy using the maximum power point tracking (MPPT) technique. The peak power harvested with simultaneous communication is 4.5 W. The harvested energy is stored in a 38 Wh lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6182-6190
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Lightwave Technology
Issue number19
Publication statusPublished - 14 Jul 2021


  • solar panels
  • energy harvesting
  • photovoltaic cells
  • optical receivers
  • vertical cavity surface emitting lasers
  • integrated circuit modeling
  • optical transmitters


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