Part V: Optical Receivers

Optical Communications–Optical receivers 16

5 Optical receivers
1. (a) Explain what is meant by “quantum noise” in an optical receiver.
(b) Considering that all other sources of noise may be neglected, other than quan-
tum noise, assume that a pulse with energy E is detected over the interval
τ . Show that the error probability of the pulse being detected as a zero (zero
electron-hole pairs generated) is equal to 10−9 if


E = 21
η
where η is the quantum efficiency of the photodetector.
(c) For a transmission rate of 10 Mbit/s and identical probabilities for ones and
zeros, calculate the receiver sensitivity corresponding to a bit error rate of 10−9
(λ = 1300 nm.

2. An analogue optical receiver operating in the 1550 nm wavelength has an electrical
bandwidth of 1.2 GHz and uses a PIN photodiode with the following characteristics:
dark current ID = 1 nA, leakage current IL = 1 nA, quantum efficiency η = 0.85,
load resistance RL = 104 Ω (T = 300 K).

(a) Assuming a modulation index of m = 0.85 calculate the receiver sensitivity in
dBm for a BER = 10−9 . Indicate the dominant type of noise the limits the
receiver sensitivity.
(b) Is there any advantage in using an APD? Justify.

3. A digital transmission system sends 200 000 bits of information per second. During
the transmission noise is added to the signal such that at the decoder input the
pulses have an amplitude of 1 V in amplitude and the rms noise voltage is 0.2 V.

(a) Assuming that ones and zeros are equally likely to be transmitted what is the
average time of error occurrence?
(b) If the voltage amplitude is doubled while keeping the noise the same, how does
this time change?

4. An LED operating emitting at the 1300 nm wavelength couples 25 µW of optical
power onto the fibre. If the total attenuation of the fibre is 40 dB and the photodiode
efficiency equals 0.65, calculate the probability that the number electron-hole pairs
generated at the photodotector is less than 5 over an 1 ns interval.

5. An electrical amplifier with a bandwidth of 0.5 GHz and an equivalent spectral noise
referred to the input of 5 × 10−24 A2 /Hz is used to amplify a 622 Mb/s signal. The
amplifier is used on a 120 km optical fibre link with 0.3 dB/km of attenuation. The
transmitter produces 1 mW pulses into the fibre on the 1.3 µm wavelength.

(a) Estimate the BER on the link if a PIN photodetector with a responsivity
R0 = 1 is used on the optical receiver.
(b) What is the quantum limit for the signal-to-noise ratio in dB?
(c) What is the required optical power at the receiver to achieve BER = 10−9 .
Optical Communications–Optical receivers 17

(d) Assuming now that an APD is used with an excess noise factor F (M ) = M ,
determine the optimum gain for the APD and the corresponding BER.

6. Consider an optical receiver operating
√ at 2.5 Gbit/s on the 1550 nm wavelength.
Assume the bandwidth to be 1/ 2 of the bit rate.

(a) Calculate the quantum limit for the sensitivity of the receiver for a bit error-
rate of 10−12 .
(b) What is the power penalty (in dB) for this receiver, if an electrical amplifier
is used with an equivalent input noise of 10−22 A2 /Hz. Neglect all other noises
except shot noise and amplifier noise.
(c) Is it possible to achieve a sensitivity for this receiver of −30 dBm using an
APD with an excess noise factor of F (M ) = M ?

7. We would like to design a binary digital decision circuit for an optical receiver. A
“1” corresponds to 2.5 V and a “0” corresponds to 0 V. Assume that the noise in the
receiver is dominated by thermal noise with equal rms-value for a “1” and “0” and
that the probability for a “1” and a “0” is the same.

(a) What is the optimum threshold voltage?
(b) What is the rms noise voltage for BER = 10−9 ?
(c) We now increase the optical signal level so that a “1” corresponds to 5 V in
the decision circuit. We found that the noise at a received “1” was dominated
by shot noise and that we could approximate the shot noise with Gaussian
noise with a standard deviation twice that for the thermal noise. Determine
the optimum threshold voltage.