In radio over fiber (RoF) systems, two subcarrier modulations (SCMs), i.e., single-sideband (SSB) and tandem single-sideband (TSSB), have been widely used. Both SSB and TSSB SCMs can be obtained using optical Mach-Zehnder modulators. In this paper, the authors theoretically investigate the impact of harmonic distortion and intermodulation distortion in RoF systems for one wavelength carrying two radio frequency (RF) signals with either SSB or TSSB SCM. It is found that nonlinear distortion can be reduced when the frequency difference of two RF signals is ~ 1 GHz compared with ~ 2 GHz and higher for both TSSB and SSB SCMs, particularly for large modulation indexes. When the frequency difference of RF signals is ~ 2 GHz and beyond, either a small modulation index or a medium modulation index combined with a minimum RF of 6 GHz must be used, and a large modulation index cannot be used due to serious nonlinear distortion. Comparison of SSB and TSSB SCMs with uniform distribution of optical signal subcarriers in a dense wavelength-division-multiplexing RoF system with channel spacing of 12.5 GHz shows by simulation that SSB SCM is better (worse) than TSSB SCM for small (large) modulation indexes.
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