Discrete multitone modulation for short-range optical communications

Research output: ThesisPhd Thesis 1 (Research TU/e / Graduation TU/e)

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As the need for higher information throughput increases, standard solutions such as copper lines and radio links seem to approach their limits. Therefore, optical solutions, after having conquered the long and medium-range networks, are nowadays also migrating into short-range data communication scenarios, offering the possibility of high capacity information transfer for both professional as well as consumer applications. The challenge is to offer cost-effective and robust optical solutions at relatively short (¿ 1 km) transmission distances, where traditional single-mode fiber for long-haul transmission systems are unsuitable. Solutions such as multimode glass fibers (MMF), plastic optical fibers (POF), using light-emitting diodes (LED) or low-cost vertical cavity surface emitting laser diodes (VCSEL), and optical wireless links (based on LEDs) are therefore being proposed and seem to be promising candidates. These solutions feature low costs, easy handling and installation, flexibility, and robustness, which are all very suitable characteristics for consumer needs. However, this comes at the expense of less bandwidth when compared to single-mode fiber systems. This thesis investigates the use of digital signal processing in order to overcome the bandwidth limitations in short-range optical communication systems, ensuring that such solutions are future-proof. In particular, discrete multitone (DMT) modulation is proposed and investigated in order to increase the capacity of such systems. Derived from the more general orthogonal frequency division multiplexing (OFDM), DMT is a baseband multicarrier modulation technique that is already widely employed in copper-based digital subscriber lines (DSL) systems such as asymmetrical DSL (ADSL) and very high data rate DSL (VDSL). By dividing a high-speed serial data stream into multiple parallel low-speed sub-streams and transmitting them simultaneously using different frequencies, DMT can be used to efficiently combat various signal impairments such as dispersion and narrowband interference. Due to the use of intensity-modulation and direct-detection (IM/DD) in low-cost optical systems, where only the intensity of light is modulated and not the phase, the application of DMT is different from standard electrical systems. Characteristics such as high crest factor, which is the ratio of the peak to root-mean-square amplitude value of the DMT signal, and clipping have different consequences and are studied in this thesis. After an introduction to the principles of DMT and rate-adaptive bit-loading, an analytical model of the optical IM/DD channel for short-range optical communications is presented. Making use of this model, the theoretical capacity of such a channel is derived for both a Gaussian and a first-order low-pass electrical-to-electrical channel response by means of the water-filling method. It is found that the crest factor of the modulation signal plays a dominant role in defining the capacity of the optical IM/DD channel. Furthermore, by including characteristics of DMT modulation such as clipping and quantization, it is shown that the calculated capacity values can be refined and optimum parameters for DMT transmission over an optical IM/DD channel exist. Following this, the optimum clipping values and number of subcarriers for maximizing DMT transmission performance over an optical IM/DD channel are investigated. It is shown that the optimum clipping value, which depends on various system parameters such as receiver noise power and modulation order, can be determined by using an analytical expression. In the case of the number of subcarriers, larger values generally lead to better performance when DMT with bit-loading is used. Additionally, various experiments to explore the system limits of DMT techniques have been performed and the results for POF, MMF, and optical wireless are presented. It is shown that record bit-rates of up to 47 Gbit/s can be achieved using DMT. Finally, an efficient way to implement DMT is presented, together with results regarding the implementation of a real-time DMT transmission system operating at 1.25 Gbit/s. System complexity issues of real-time hardware implementation are also discussed, showing that pipelining and parallelization are essential in high-speed designs, adding to the need of extra hardware resources. Moreover, it is verified that for DMT, the Fast Fourier Transform (FFT) operations require most hardware resources. After the presentation of some alternative modulation techniques such as pulse-amplitude-modulated DMT (PAM-DMT), which also were investigated by the author, this thesis ends with the conclusions and some recommendations for further research work.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Electrical Engineering
  • Koonen, A.M.J. (Ton), Promotor
  • Randel, Sebastian, Copromotor, External person
  • Tangdiongga, Eduward, Copromotor
Award date10 Dec 2009
Place of PublicationEindhoven
Print ISBNs978-90-386-2115-9
Publication statusPublished - 2009


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