Abstract

Joint effects of aperture averaging and beam width on the performance of free-space optical communication links, under the impairments of atmospheric loss, turbulence, and pointing errors (PEs), are investigated from an information theory perspective. The propagation of a spatially partially coherent Gaussian-beam wave through a random turbulent medium is characterized, taking into account the diverging and focusing properties of the optical beam as well as the scintillation and beam wander effects. Results show that a noticeable improvement in the average channel capacity can be achieved with an enlarged receiver aperture in the moderate-to-strong turbulence regime, even without knowledge of the channel state information. In particular, it is observed that the optimum beam width can be reduced to improve the channel capacity, albeit the presence of scintillation and PEs, given that either one or both of these adverse effects are least dominant. We show that, under strong turbulence conditions, the beam width increases linearly with the Rytov variance for a relatively smaller PE loss but changes exponentially with steeper increments for higher PE losses. Our findings conclude that the optimal beam width is dependent on the combined effects of turbulence and PEs, and this parameter should be adjusted according to the varying atmospheric channel conditions. Therefore, we demonstrate that the maximum channel capacity is best achieved through the introduction of a larger receiver aperture and a beam-width optimization technique.

© 2015 Optical Society of America

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