Performance Analysis of DCO-OFDM in VLC

Ayad Atiyah Abdulkafi, Mohamad Yusoff Alias and Yaseein Soubhi Hussein
Faculty of Engineering, Multimedia University, Persiaran Multimedia, 63100, Cyberjaya, Selangor, Malaysia,,

Abstract—The performance of indoor visible light communication
(VLC) systems using a direct current-biased optical orthogonal
frequency division multiplexing (DCO-OFDM) scheme is
investigated in this paper. The impact of nonlinearity of Light
Emitting Diode (LED) and its beam angle on the VLC system
performance is studied. We later analyze the effect of modulation
order, number of subcarriers, signal scaling and biasing operation
on the peak to average power ratio (PAPR) which is a major issue
in OFDM based VLC system. Simulation results show that the bit
error rate (BER) decreases as the degree of nonlinearity increases
and a better BER can be achieved as the LED behavior
approaches linear model. In addition, it is shown that reducing the
QAM order or increasing the number of subcarriers may reduce
the effect of the LED nonlinearity, thus improving the BER
performance of the VLC system. Moreover, it is demonstrated
that PAPR is higher for a large number of subcarriers and
modulation order. Finally, the PAPR of the visible light OFDM
system can significantly be reduced by employing the signal
scaling combined with biasing operation.
Keywords-component; VLC, Optical OFDM, PAPR, BER



In recent years, there has been constantly increasing interest
in visible light communication (VLC) motivated by the
dramatic development of light emitting diode (LED)
technologies and the scarce spectrum resources. The radio
frequency (RF) spectrum is becoming more congested, highly
regulated, and expensive to license [1-3]. VLC refers to short
range optical wireless communication (OWC) using visible
light spectrum from 380 to 780 nanometers. It provides the
potential for multi-gigabit per-second data rate communication
at short distances with ~300 THz of available visible light
spectrum at low power and cost, using simple LED and
photodiode (PD) [4] In addition, the VLC systems that use the
infrastructure of the indoor illumination system have been
envisioned as a compact, safe, and green alternative to WiFi for
the downlink of an indoor wireless mobile communication
system [5].
However, the inherent nonlinearity of LEDs is a challenge
for optical orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing (OOFDM) due to its sensitivity to the resulting distortion [6].
LEDs have a minimum threshold value known as the turn-on
voltage (TOV) which is the onset of current flow and light
emission (below the TOV, the LED is considered in a cut-off

region and is not conducting current). Above the TOV, the
current flow and light output increases exponentially with
voltage. The LED outputs light power that is linear with the
drive current. However, thermal aspects causing a drop in the
electrical-to-optical (E/O) conversion efficiency (light output
of the LED decreases and slowly approaches a steady-state
value; LEDs self-heating characteristic) must be considered.
Consequently, the dc and ac/pulsed currents must be adjusted
accordingly to ensure that the LED chip does not overheat [7].
In [8] it has been demonstrated that through the exploitation of
the high peak to- average power ratio (PAPR) in OFDM, it is
also possible to significantly enhance the data rates of IM
optical wireless systems. Practical implementation of OFDM
for optical wireless (OW) systems using non-coherent light is
described in [6] by considering the LEDs and PDs. This
research presents the performance analysis of DCO-OFDM in
VLC system by studying the impact of modulation order, the
inverse fast Fourier transform (IFFT) size, LED nonlinearity,
signal scaling and biasing operation on the PAPR and bit error
rate (BER). The reminder of this paper is organized as follows.
Section II presents the system models. The simulation setup
and results are presented in Section III. Finally, conclusion is
drawn in Section IV.


At the system transmitter, OFDM uses IFFT to transform a
set of multiplexed, overlapping subcarriers in the frequency
domain to a signal of its time-domain equivalent form. A single
OFDM symbol carries a set of data symbols, X in the
frequency-domain. The OFDM symbol is a vector, which
consists of a set of N subcarriers. The IFFT algorithm outputs
the discrete OFDM symbol vector x in the time-domain, which
is given by [9]

xm =


N −1

∑ Xk e



for 0 ≤ m ≤ N − 1


k =0

where N is the size of IFFT and Xk is the kth subcarrier symbol.
The corresponding FFT conversion pair to (1) can be expressed

Xk =


N −1

∑ xm e



for 0 ≤ k ≤ N − 1


E[•] the average of those values [10].h e j 2πhm N for 0 ≤ m ≤ 2 N − 1 end fraction of the OFDM frame. a DC-offset is added in the DC-coupled optical OFDM (DCOOFDM) scheme. The OFDM symbol is a periodic function with a period. This results in a 2N-point IFFT output of the OFDM symbol.. and only responds to the average light intensity. This is a transpose-conjugate copy of the active subcarriers. where the elements of new IFFT input vector. X *N −2 . linear scaling and biasing model are adopted to ensure the forward signal is within the dynamic range of the LED [12]. X 1* ] (3) and the DC component. The signal xm is then converted to the analog waveform x(t) using a digital-to-analog converter (DAC).. X N . The value BDC is the biasing level added to x(t) to ensure a unipolar OFDM signal at the LED input. Equation (1) is modified to xm = 2 N −1 1 N ∑X H . Equation (7) can be reduced to Yh = X h + N AWGN . and α is the parameter to scale x(t) within the dynamic range of LED. In a DCO-OFDM system. h (9) An advantage of OFDM transmission is that it can overcome this ISI problem by using a cyclic prefix (CP) inserted at the beginning of the OFDM frame. At the receiver. m e −j 2πhm N for 0 ≤ h ≤ 2 N − 1 (8) m=0 therefore. by substituting (6) in (5). After the scaling and biasing operation. this mitigates the detrimental effect caused by the dispersive channel by localizing it in a non-information bearing prefix of the OFDM symbol which is later removed upon reception. X 2 . X1 .h is a Gaussian noise component of the h-th FFT output at the receiver is given by 2 N −1 N AWGN . NAWGN. Any reductions in PAPR are normally illustrated using a PAPR complementary cumulative distribution function (CCDF) diagram. XH are [10] X H = [ X 0 . The total data rate for a DCO-OFDM transmission is given by (4) h =0 RDCO−OFDM = th where h is the h -subcarrier symbol of XH. Tp=1/ Δf. The CCDF of the PAPR is defined as the probability that the PAPR of an OFDM frame exceeds a given reference value PAPR0 and it is the most frequently used measure for describing PAPR reduction [11]. The generation and recovery of the DCOOFDM scheme is straightforward. 2 N −1 Yh = ∑ xm e −j 2πhm N 2 N −1 + ∑ nAWGN.X N −1 . Also. X *2 . X0 = XN = 0. the resulting signal y(t) will have a mean value BDC and a variance σy2= σ2 σx2 where σx2 is the variance . m e m= 0 −j 2πhm N for 0 ≤ h ≤ 2 N −1 (7) where max xm2 is maximum value of the OFDM signal power. which is typically M-quadrature amplitude modulation (QAM). the real-valued time-domain OFDM signal envelope is still characterized by a high PAPR. which is added to the other half of the IFFT frame.m are the signal and noise amplitude of the m-th point of the 2N point time domain signal. A DC-offset (implemented in practice as a dc-bias current to drive the LED transmitter) is added to the generated time-domain waveform to lift the signal into a unipolar region and is then transmitted. The forward signal y(t) drives the LED which in turn converts the magnitude of the input electric signal r(t) into optical intensity. In an additive white Gaussian noise (AWGN) channel. The human eye cannot perceive fast changing variations of the light intensity. the transmitted and the received signal are given by y = x + n AWGN (6) where n is AWGN noise component.The output of (1) is a complex signal and cannot be used in an intensity modulation and direct detection (IM/DD) system such as the LED based VLC. The timedomain optical OFDM symbol waveform is real and bipolar. and Δf is the subcarrier spacing which is given by Δf=B/(N-1)where B is the signal modulation bandwidth. X *N −1 . Hermitian symmetry is used to achieve a real-valued IFFT output. The prefix is longer than the estimated delay spread in the channel. h = ∑n AWGN .. The CP is a cyclical copy of an r (t ) = α x (t ) + BDC (12) where α and BDC are both real-valued. a fast Fourier transform (FFT) operation performs the conversion from the time to the frequency domain and each element of the FFT output Yh is given by 2 N −1 Yh = ∑ ym e for 0 ≤ h ≤ 2 N − 1 (5) N −1 ∑ log 2 Mk (10) k =1 where B is the modulation bandwidth and log2M represents the number of bits per symbol of a carrier modulation scheme. The PAPR is defined as PAPR = 2πhm −j N B N max x m 2 2 E[ x m ] (11) m =0 where y is vector consists of a set of amplitudes of the received time-domain signal of length 2N. However. the positive forward signal r(t) that drives the LED must be obtained from x(t) after both a linear scaling (LS) and a biasing operation as m= 0 where xm and nAWGN... To ensure a unipolar signal to meet IM/DD requirements.

signal amplitudes below the LED TOV and above the LED saturation point are clipped [6]. The QAM symbols are then modulated by IFFT to transform the symbols into time-domain samples. symbol-by-symbol DC bias is added to conform with the non-negativity constraint. The scale factor must be appropriately chosen to work with the dynamic range constraints of the LED. Pr is the received optical power. Nonlinearity factors have a major impact on system performance. B. which is subjected to the non-linear distortion function. and R(ϕ) is the transmitter radiant intensity which is given by m R (φ ) = cos m (φ ) 2π (16) where m is the order of Lambertian emission. r(t). Compared with the LOS link. F(r(t)). The signal is then converted to the analog waveform using a DAC.of x(t). The knee factor in (13) is set either to limit (hard clipping) or to smoothly clip (soft-clipping) the upper peaks of the OFDM signal. The order of Lambertian emission m is related to the LED semiangle at half-power Ф1/2 (also called the transmitter beam angle ) by m= ln 2 ln(cos Φ 1 / 2 ) (17) A photodiode is used in the receiver side to transform the received optical intensity into the amplitude of an electrical signal. ψ is the angle with respect to the receiver. Results and Discussion In this section. After passing through the channel. 1. ϕ is the angle with respect to the transmitter. The resultant signal modulates a light source and is transmitted over the WOC channel. Simulation Setup The simulation flowchart of our investigation is shown in Fig. of the transmitter front-end. a high value of α can result in a clipped optical signal. PERFORMANCE ANALYSIS A. The required LED model behavior can be described as follows: f (vLED )   f (v LED ) 2k 1 / 2k  ) ) iLED (vLED ) =  (1 + ( im  0 if vLED ≥ 0 (13) if v LED < 0 k is a parameter to model the degree of nonlinearity (also called the knee factor). ⊗ stands for linear convolution. the received signal can be negative as well as positive. the parameters that are affecting the performance of DCO-OFDM in VLC system are investigated. Data bits are randomly generated and converted from serial to parallel to form symbols for M-QAM. 2. Therefore only the LOS link is considered and contributions from NLOS links are neglected [2]. The CP is first removed and the linear convolution is converted to circular convolution then the signal is demodulated using FFT. The received optical power in Watt at receiver plane in a LOS path (ignoring the reflection of walls) is given by Pr = Pt H (0) LOS (14) where Pt is the transmitted optical power. The LOS channel path loss is defined as H (0) LOS = A R (φ ) Ts (ψ ) g (ψ ) cosψ D2 (15) Where A is the active receiving area. the received signal is bipolar instead of unipolar. The indoor VLC channel consists of two types of links. . namely the line-of-sight (LOS) link and the non-line-of-sight (NLOS) diffuse link [2]. So. The data symbols then are extracted from the output of FFT and QAM demodulation is achieved. k. The data bits are recovered after serial-to-parallel conversion. D is the transmitterreceiver distance. The reverse process is carried out at the receiver after removing the DC bias. OFDM is based on IFFT and FFT algorithms. the implementation on the DSP is straightforward. the received signal is obtained as y(t) = h(t) ⊗ F(r(t)) + nAWGN(t) (18) where y(t) represents the received distorted replica of the transmitted signal. and H(0) is the optical LOS path loss. h(t). Ts(ψ) is the filter gain g(ψ) is the concentrator gain. a LED non-linearity model is proposed in [7]. On the other hand. and f(vLED) is the function describing the measured/data sheet I–V characteristics. im is the maximum permissible ac/pulsed current through the LED. Here. III. This is very serious problem in OFDM systems due to the large PAPR. A CP is inserted before the parallelto-serial conversion takes place. It is important to note that the noise is added in the electrical domain. In particular. unlike the transmitted signal. on LED input-output relation is depicted in Fig. hence. The impact of LED nonlinearity degree (or knee factor). The nonlinearly distorted transmitted signal is convolved with the channel impulse response. the received optical power from the NLOS link is usually much smaller. the optical pass loss is the most important quantity to characterize the channel. and it is distorted by additive white Gaussian noise (AWGN). nAWGN(t). Since. After shifting the signal to passband. at the receiver. In analogy to a solid state power amplifier (SSPA) model for RF domain systems. the following equivalent discrete model for a noisy communication link is employed in the system description y = h* F( r) + nAWGN (19) where * stands for discrete linear convolution. Therefore.

3.6 End Amplitude BER performance evaluation 0.05 IFFT 0 -0.2 0.6 0 50 100 150 200 Time Index Fig. -0. simulations are performed with the same values of k mentioned above. it is clear from Fig. LED electrical-optical response for different degrees of nonlinearity k 10 0 k=2 k=3 k=10 k=50 DAC 10 Linear scaling and DC bias addition BER PAPR calculation 10 10 10 LED nonlinear distortion function 10 10 -1 -2 -3 -4 -5 -6 h(t) convolution and AWGN addition 0 2 4 6 8 10 12 SNR (dB) 14 16 18 20 Fig.1 0. and im=0. The knee factor controls the smoothness of the transition from the linear to the saturation region.2 0 Fig.15 QAM Modulation k=2 k=3 k=10 k=50 0. As it is expected.5 Start 0.4 0.2 For demonstration purposes. 3. Simulation Flowchart -0.45 0.3 0. 2. the LED curves for different values of k (k=2.35 LED (v LED S/P conversion 0. 1.8 0.4 -0. 2.4 Generate input bits ) (A) 0. In order to show how different levels of non-linearity affect the performance of the VLC system in term of BER.5 A have been assumed.5 1 vLED (V) CP insertion and P/S conversion Fig.2 Original OFDM signal After adding CP After CP. 10 and 50) using f (vLED) = vLED/R where R is a normalization resistance.5 0 0. LS and DC bias 1 P/S conversion and bits extraction 0.0. as the value of k increases the LED behavior approaches linear model. BER vs. SNR for different degrees of nonlinearity k ADC S/P conversion and CP removing FFT In addition. 3 and less BER can be achieved as the LED behavior approaches linear model. 4.25 i 0. OFDM signals 250 300 350 . It can be seen that the upper saturation can be effectively controlled by the knee factor k. increasing k factor will result in improving the BER performance as shown in Fig. QAM-Demodulation 1.

5.5 6 PAPR0 (dB) 6. The PAPR performance for different QAM modulation orders is depicted in Fig. In order to study the effect of modulation order on the BER performance. We also observe that the PAPR increases with increasing the number of subcarriers for all of the constellations. 7 shows the PAPR performance of OFDM signal in VLC system for different IFFT sizes.5 8 Fig. However. these methods should be performed on either the analog signal. 7. 4. the PAPR is higher for a large number of subcarriers.4 0. the BER increases i. Also.2 Amplitude 1 0. For PAPR reduction methods to be effective solutions to PAPR.4 10 after D/A conversion IFFT output CCDF (Pr[PAPR>PAPR0]) 1. 8.8 0. the contribution of ISI in VLC systems is not as severe as an RF system. It can be seen that using LS and DC biasing method substantially outperform the original signal in which the PAPR performance of the 16 QAM with LS and Dc biasing is the best. or an upsampled version of the digital signal. which corresponds to a longer symbol period where the influence of nonlinearity grows with an increase in the symbol period.5 7 7.1. 6 for DCO-OFDM with and without linear scaling (LS) and DC biasing operations. In addition. IFFT output and the continuous signal after D/A conversion Fig. A large IFFT size results in a narrow bandwidth of each subcarrier.2 0 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 Time Index 35 40 45 50 0 N=64 N=128 N=256 N=1024 10 10 10 -1 -2 -3 3. Fig. many of components in the transmitter and receiver must have a wide dynamic range due to the high PAPR of OFDM signal caused by the peak regrowth after D/A conversion. because the frequency response of VLC channel falls-off relatively slowly. If the OFDM signal is not to be distorted.The effect of IFFT size on PAPR performance In practical OFDM-based systems. higher SNR is required to achieve same BER when QAM changes from lower order to higher order schemes. This is because once the signal is D/A converted the peaks of the signal may occur between the discrete samples as shown in Fig.e. a linear scaling has been adopted in our simulation to make the OFDM signal work with the dynamic range constrained VLC system while a DC bias is added to the bipolar OFDM signal to conform with the non-negativity constraint as shown in Fig.5 4 4. It can be seen that the PAPR of the timedomain VLC signal grows with the number of IFFT points i.6 0. a CP is introduced to preserve the orthogonality between subchannels. 5. BER vs. 8. This increases tolerance against ISI due to delay spread. It is clear that as the QAM modulation order increases. 10 0 10 -1 10 0 16QAM 64QAM 128QAM 256QAM -1 BER CCDF (Pr[PAPR>PAPR0]) 10 10 10 16QAM 16QAM + LS and DC bias 64QAM 64QAM + LS and DC bias 128QAM 128QAM + LS and DC bias 256QAM 256QAM + LS and DC bias -2 -3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 PAPR0 (dB) Fig.5 5 5. large FFT/IFFT size is obtained at the expense of higher computational complexity. simulations are conducted with k=50 for different QAM order as shown in Fig. 6. SNR for different QAM for DCO-OFDM VLC system .e. CCDF curves for PAPR of DCO-OFDM for different QAM modulation orders with and without LS and DC biasing 10 13 10 -2 -3 0 2 4 6 8 10 12 SNR (dB) 14 16 18 20 Fig.

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