Optically multiplexed multi-carrier systems with channel spacing reduced to the symbol rate per carrier are highly susceptible to inter-channel crosstalk, which places stringent requirements for the specifications of system components and hinders the use of high-level formats. In this paper, we investigate the performance benefits of using offset 4-, 16-, and 64-quadrature amplitude modulation (QAM) in coherent wavelength division multiplexing (CoWDM). We compare this system with recently reported Nyquist WDM and no-guard-interval optical coherent orthogonal frequency division multiplexing, and show that the presented system greatly relaxes the requirements for device specifications and enhances the spectral efficiency by enabling the use of high-level QAM. The achieved performance can approach the theoretical limits using practical components.
©2011 Optical Society of America
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