Continuous phase modulation for high speed fiber-optic links
Detwiler, Thomas Frederick
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Fiber-optic networks are continually evolving to accommodate the ever increasing data rates demanded by modern applications and devices. The current state-of-the art systems are being deployed with 100 Gb/s rates per wavelength while maintaining the 50 GHz channel spacing established for 10 Gb/s dense wavelength division multiplexed (DWDM) systems. Phase modulation formats (in particular quadrature phase shift keying - QPSK) are necessary to meet the spectral efficiency (SE) requirements of the application. The main challenge for phase modulated optical systems is fiber nonlinearities, where changes in intensity of the combined optical signal result in changes to the fiber's refractive index. Limiting launch power is the primary means to avoid dramatic intensity fluctuations, a strategy which in turn limits the available signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) within the channel. Continuous phase modulation (CPM) is a format in which data is encoded in the phase, while the amplitude is constant throughout all transmission (even during transitions between symbols). With the goal of reducing the impact of nonlinearities, the purpose of this research was to identify a set of CPM signals best suited for high speed fiber-optic transmission, and quantify their performance against other formats. The secondary goal was to identify techniques appropriate for demodulation of high speed fiber-optic systems and implement them for simulation and experimental research. CPM encompasses a number of variable parameters that combine to form an infinite number of unique schemes, each of which is characterized by its own SE, minimum distance, and implementation complexity. A method for computing minimum distance of DWDM-filtered CPM formats is presented and utilized to narrow down to a range of candidate schemes. A novel transmitter design is presented for CPM signal generation, as well as a number of novel reception techniques to achieve proper demodulation of the CPM signal from the coherent optical receiver. Using these methods, the identified range of candidate schemes was compared in simulation to the conventional QPSK format, showing that some modest gain can be expected from CPM. Through these and other simulations, it is revealed that fiber nonlinearities depend on the aggregate sum of all wavelengths rather than the imposition of each separate carrier on its neighbors. Therefore the constant envelope of CPM does not directly impact the nonlinearities since multiple carriers will photonically interfere and result in intensity fluctuations regardless of modulation format. Additionally, dispersive effects in fiber decompose the underlying channels so that the intensity throughout propagation is nearly Gaussian distributed, regardless of format. The benefits gained from CPM are thus limited to schemes that attain a higher minimum distance than alternative formats (in the given channel passband), and for optically compensated links in which low dispersion is maintained throughout the fiber link.