SHAH ALAM: Wi-Fi technology is getting a boost from a 1920s invention – the fluorescent light.
Universiti ITM’s (UiTM) Faculty of Electrical Engineering senior professor Dr Mohd Tarmizi Ali has succesfully harnessed the ability of ionised gases inside the fluorescent tube to act as an antenna to allow Wi-Fi signals to be received and transmitted.
Ionised gas exhibits the properties of metal, which makes it possible for it to receive and transmit radio waves at 2.4 Gigahertz, making it suitable for Wi-Fi.
“A coupling sleeve is positioned at the lower end of the tube, which can be used to connect the plasma tube of the fluorescent light to the Wi-Fi router. This will allow stronger signals around the house where the fluorescent light is situated,” Dr Mohd Tarmizi said in an interview on the project titled “A smart fluorescent antenna with Ethernet over power for Wi-Fi application”.
The project has won gold awards on two occasions this year – at the International Invention, Innovation & Technology Exhibition (ITEX), as well as at the Invention, Innovation & Design Exposition.
“The fluorescent tube has a dual function – the normal antenna can both transmit and receive radio waves, as well as serve as a lighting device as well. Testing for a month in our high frequency antenna laboratory UiTM research room showed that the performance of the Wi-Fi connection remains strong and stable compared to other signals,” Dr Mohd Tarmizi said, adding that the advantage of this hybrid device was its low cost while enabling Wi-Fi signals to go up to 12m.
He said the patent for his innovation had been submitted to the authorities and the project was currently under the commercialisation phase, where he had been approached by several companies.
“The next step is researching whether we can use the same technology with LED lights,” he said.