This paper proposes a novel design of an optical wireless communications (OWC) receiver using a solar panel as a photodetector. The proposed system is capable of simultaneous data transmission and energy harvesting. The solar panel can convert a modulated light signal into an electrical signal without any external power requirements. Furthermore, the direct current (DC) component of the modulated light can be harvested in the proposed receiver. The generated energy can potentially be used to power a user terminal or at least to prolong its operation time.
The current work discusses the various parameters which need to be considered in the design of a system using a solar panel for simultaneous communication and energy harvesting. The presented theory is supported with an experimental implementation of orthogonal frequency division multiplexing (OFDM), thus, proving the validity of the analysis and demonstrating the feasibility of the proposed receiver. Using the propounded system, acommunication link with a data rate of 11.84 Mbps is established for a received optical signal with a peak-to-peak amplitude of 0.7 × 10-3 W/cm2.