16QAM for next-generation optical transport networks
Stark, Andrew Joseph
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Fiber-optic networks are continually evolving to accommodate ever-increasing data transport rates demanded by modern applications, devices, and services. Network operators are now beginning to deploy systems with 100 Gb/s per-wavelength data rates while maintaining the 50 GHz dense wavelength division multiplexing grid that is (generally) standard for 10 Gb/s systems. Advanced modulation formats incorporating both amplitude- and phase-based data symbols are necessary to meet the spectral efficiency requirements of fiber-optic data transport. These modulation formats require coherent detection, enabling future networks to take advantage of advances in silicon CMOS via digital signal processing algorithms and techniques. The primary challenge for future networks is the fiber nonlinear response; changes in the intensity of the propagating optical signal induce changes in the optical fiber refractive index. Limiting the allowed propagation intensity will reduce these nonlinear effects and correspondingly limit the total available signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) within the channel. Predicting the nonlinear SNR limits of fiber-optic transport for data rates 100 Gb/s and beyond is a primary purpose of this research. This dissertation expressly matches several novel expressions for nonlinear interference accumulation to experimental data and demonstrates robust theoretical prediction of nonlinear transmission penalties. The experiments were performed to isolate the transmission performance of the fiber medium in the highly dispersive regime -- no dispersion compensation or Raman amplification was employed and all other hardware was kept static. These results are the first experimental validation of the nonlinear interference expressions on a fiber-type basis. Second, this dissertation moves to data transport beyond per-wavelength rates of 100 Gb/s by employing 16QAM at baud rates as high as 32 GHz. It examines signal processing strategies for 16QAM transport and extends the nonlinear interference prediction techniques to 16QAM. The results reveal that the SNR requirements of 16QAM as limited by nonlinear interference will likely limit deployments to high-density regional and metro networks.