In this paper, the authors analyze conditions under which they can be certain on the intensity addition of a given device, such as tapped-delay lines, used in digital incoherent all-optical communication systems. A general expression for phase-induced intensity noise that is applicable to all types of semiconductor lasers is derived by defining an optical self-SNR expression that can be used to analyze and measure phase-induced intensity noise. The result shows that in order to have a minimal phase-induced intensity noise in most digital optical incoherent systems, a large optical self-SNR, e.g., 20 dB or more, is needed. This in turn is shown to place a limit on the maximum rate of processing in a typical incoherent optical system even neglecting the bandwidth limitation of the photodetector. Furthermore, it is shown that the maximum rate of processing depends on the laser autocorrelation function and laser coherence time.
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