The temporal covariance function of irradiance-flux fluctua-tions for Gaussian Schell-model (GSM) beams propagating in atmospheric turbulence is theoretically formulated by making use of the method of effective beam parameters. Based on this formulation, new expressions for the root-mean-square (RMS) bandwidth of the irradiance-flux temporal spectrum due to GSM beams passing through atmospheric turbulence are derived. With the help of these expressions, the temporal fade statistics of the irradiance flux in free-space optical (FSO) communication systems, using spatially partially coherent sources, impaired by atmospheric turbulence are further calculated. Results show that with a given receiver aperture size, the use of a spatially partially coherent source can reduce both the fractional fade time and average fade duration of the received light signal; however, when atmospheric turbulence grows strong, the reduction in the fractional fade time becomes insignificant for both large and small receiver apertures and in the average fade duration turns inconsiderable for small receiver apertures. It is also illustrated that if the receiver aperture size is fixed, changing the transverse correlation length of the source from a larger value to a smaller one can reduce the average fade frequency of the received light signal only when a threshold parameter in decibels greater than the critical threshold level is specified.
© 2013 Optical Society of America
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