LED driver adds VLC visible light communications

June 21, 2021 // By Nick Flaherty
LED driver adds VLC visible light communications
The NCL31000 and NCL31001 from On Semi allow OEMs to easily develop smart LED luminaires with visible light communication (VLC) and indoor positioning systems

On Semiconductor has added light-based positioning and visible light communication (VLC) to its LED drivers to boost the takeup of the technology.

VLC modulates the voltage of the LED at speeds up to 1MHz in the chip to transmit data using the pulse-based approach defined in the IEEE802.15.7 standard and the LiFi specification. This is particularly useful in areas where RF links are not safe to use, such as hazardous spaces such as mines, or RF sensitive areas such as in hospitals or on board aircrafts.

The NCL31000 and NCL31001 LED drivers allow manufacturers to develop LED luminaires with light-based positioning technology and visible light communication. The drivers are based around a highly energy efficient buck LED driver that supports both high-bandwidth analogue dimming and PWM dimming down to zero current.

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The driver includes an integrated 3V3 fixed DC-DC converter and a further adjustable DC-DC (2.5 - 24V), which can be used to power system components such as sensing devices and the microcontroller. Integrating these power solutions in the driver dramatically simplifies system design while boosting efficiency.

The ability to dim to true dark with an accuracy of 0.1 percent ensures that there is no ghost light at the lowest dim settings. Highly accurate diagnostics further reduce system complexity by integrating a 10-bit analogue to digital converter (ADC). The ADC measures system voltages, currents and temperature to monitor LED and overall system efficiency, and detect any anomalies.

A serial (I2C / SPI) interface makes all diagnostic data available to an external MCU that can monitor and control the intelligent lighting system. Tests show that using a spread spectrum modulaton for the clock reduces the EMI to 14 dB below the requirements of CISPR15 / EN55015.

The NCL31001 as a companion driver to the NCL31000 for multi-string lighting applications, including those with colour control. The NCL31001 offers the same features as the NCL31000 except for the DC-DC converters to avoid unnecessary duplication.

“There is a growing demand for lighting intelligence as LED luminaire manufacturers recognize how these features improve convenience for users while reducing operating expenses and energy consumption,” said Michel De Mey, Vice President, Industrial Solutions at ON Semiconductor. “By supporting these features alongside market-leading efficiency and functionality, the NCL31000 and NCL31001 will open a variety of new opportunities for smart lighting systems.”

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