Abstract

A central question in free-space optical communications is how to improve the transfer of information between a transmitter and a receiver. The capacity of the communication channel can be increased by multiplexing of independent modes using either: (1) the multiple-input–multiple-output (MIMO) approach, where communication is done with modes obtained from the singular value decomposition of the transfer matrix from the transmitter array to the receiver array, or (2) the orbital angular momentum (OAM) approach, which uses vortex beams that carry angular momenta. In both cases, the number of usable modes is limited by the finite aperture of the transmitter and receiver, and the effect of the turbulent atmosphere. The goal of this paper is twofold: first, we show that the MIMO and OAM multiplexing schemes are closely related. Specifically, in the case of circular apertures, the leading singular vectors of the transfer matrix, which are useful for communication, are essentially the same as the commonly used Laguerre–Gauss vortex beams, provided these have a special radius that depends on the wavelength, the distance from the transmitter to the receiver, and the ratio of the radii of their apertures. Second, we characterize the effect of atmospheric turbulence on the communication modes using the phase screen method put in the mathematical framework of beam propagation in random media.

© 2020 Optical Society of America

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