Polybinary, optical amplitude modulated phase shift keying (AM-PSK) polybinary, M-ary amplitude shift keying (ASK), and polyquaternary signaling schemes operating at 10Gb/s are investigated in 1550-nm lightwave systems operating over standard, single-mode fiber. The premise for exploring these signal types is that they concentrate power at frequencies closer to the optical carrier where phase distortion of the optical field from chromatic dispersion is less severe. Issues such as modulator chirp, optimal level spacing in a 4-ary ASK signal, and phase modulated to amplitude modulated (PM-AM) noise conversion from a nonzero laser linewidth are studied. It is found that higher order polybinary signals do not offer an improvement in dispersion tolerance over a duobinary signal. 4-ary ASK is demonstrated to increase the dispersion-limited distance to 225 km experimentally and 350 km through simulation, but at the expense of a 8 dB degradation in receiver sensitivity due to the increased number of levels and the signal dependence of signal-spontaneous beat noise. Furthermore, the linewidth requirement for a 4-ary ASK signal is less than 1 MHz in order to minimize the impact of PM-AM relative intensity noise (RIN) when transmitting over 200-300 km.
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