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This paper presents a circuit for simultaneous reception of optical power and data using a solar cell. The circuit employs a switched-inductor boost DC-DC converter for energy harvesting and a low-power thresholding receiver for data reception. The thresholding data receiver comprises a current-sense resistor that monitors the current output of the solar cell, an instrumentation amplifier, a band-pass filter and a comparator. A system-level analysis of an optical communication system employing the proposed circuit is presented along with a circuit-level analysis and implementation. As a proof-of-concept, the proposed circuit for simultaneous power and data reception is implemented using off-the-shelf components and tested using a custom-built test setup. Measurement results, including harvested power, electronic noise and bit error rate (BER), are reported for a GaAs solar cell and a red LED light source. Results show that 223 W of power are harvested by the DC-DC converter at a distance of 32.5 cm and a radiated power of 9.3 mW. At a modulation depth of 50% and a transmission speed of 2.5 kbps, a BER of 1.008×10 3 is achieved. Measurement results reveal that the proposed solution exhibits a trade-off between harvested power, transmission speed and BER.
energy harvesting; solar cells; optical communications; visible light communications