We present a closed-form expression for computation of the output pulse’s rms time width in an optical fiber link with up to fourth-order dispersion (FOD) by use of an optical source with arbitrary linewidth and chirp parameters. We then specialize the expression to analyze the effect of FOD on the transmission of very high-speed linear optical time-division multiplexing systems. By suitable source chirping, FOD can be compensated for to an upper link-length limit above which other techniques must be employed. Finally, a design formula to estimate the maximum attainable bit rate limited by FOD as a function of the link length is also presented.
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