The potential for higher spectral efficiency and recent activities in the area of coherent optical systems raise the interest in new multi-level modulation formats for optical transmission. In this paper Square-16-QAM is introduced as a novel candidate for future high-capacity and high spectrally efficient optical systems. Different possible transmitters as well as the homodyne| IQ-receiver are illustrated. At the transmitter side the implementation of an electrical level-generator is shown experimentally. At the receiver side options for the realization of the optical 2×4 90°-hybrid are discussed. Furthermore, an algorithm for Square-16-QAM digital phase estimation is developed, whose performance and limitations are investigated in simulations.

© 2006 Optical Society of America

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