Figure of merit for direct-detection optical channels


The capacity and sensitivity of a direct-detection optical channel are calculated and compared to those of a white Gaussian noise channel. Unlike Gaussian channels in which the receiver performance can be characterized using the noise temperature, the performance of the direct-detection channel depends on both signal and background noise, as well as the ratio of peak to average signal power. Because of the signal-power dependence of the optical channel, actual performance of the channel can be evaluated only by considering both transmit and receive ends of the systems. Given the background noise power and the modulation bandwidth, however, the theoretically optimum receiver sensitivity can be calculated. This optimum receiver sensitivity can be used to define the equivalent receiver noise temperature and calculate the corresponding G/T product. It should be pointed out, however, that the receiver sensitivity is a function of signal power, and care must be taken to avoid deriving erroneous projections of the direct-detection channel performance

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