In order to analyze the effect of beam type on free space optical communication systems, bit error rate (BER) values versus signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) are calculated for zero order and higher order general beam types, namely for Gaussian, cos-Gaussian, cosh-Gaussian, and annular beams. BER analysis is based on optical scintillation using log-normal distribution for the intensity, which is valid in weak atmospheric turbulence. BERs for these beams are plotted under variations of propagation length, source size, wavelength of operation, and order of the beam. According to our graphical outputs, at small source sizes and long propagation distances, the smallest BER value is obtained for the annular beam. On the other hand, at large source size and small propagation distance, the smallest BER value is obtained for the cos-Gaussian beam. Moreover, our study of the order of the beam shows that higher order beams have lower BER values than the zero order beams at longer propagation distances. But this drop compared with the order seems to be incremental.
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