Abstract

Intensity modulation with direct detection (IM-DD) dominates the commercial short-reach optical communications. However, when upgrading the data-rate distance product to 1000 Gb/s·km per wavelength and beyond, IM-DD faces severe performance barrier. Although a linear mapping exists between the intensity of transmitter and receiver in IM-DD back-to-back system, it becomes nonlinear under fiber channel impairments; for instance, the dominant chromatic dispersion. Coherent detection overcomes this fundamental obstacle by recovering a linear replica of the optical field instead of intensity. The local oscillator provides a reference carrier which mixes with the received signal, from which both intensity and phase of the signal can be recovered. Borrowing the idea from coherent detection, in DD system, a carrier can be sent along with the signal so that the receiver utilizes the reference carrier originated from transmitter; namely, the receiver conducts self-coherent (SCOH) detection. In this paper, we review a variety of optical SCOH subsystems, and reveal how they realize linear channels, while maintaining the simple and low-cost DD. SCOH can readily reach a data-rate distance product beyond 10000 Gb/s·km, making it suitable for the future high-speed short- and medium-reach applications, such as the data center interconnect, passive access network, and metropolitan area network.

© 2015 IEEE

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