We investigate theoretically the efficiency of deep-space optical communication in the presence of background noise. With decreasing average signal power spectral density, a scaling gap opens up between optimized simple-decoded pulse position modulation and generalized on-off keying with direct detection. The scaling of the latter follows the quantum mechanical capacity of an optical channel with additive Gaussian noise. Efficient communication is found to require a highly imbalanced distribution of instantaneous signal power. This condition can be alleviated through the use of structured receivers which exploit optical interference over multiple time bins to concentrate the signal power before the detection stage.
Marcin Jarzyna, Wojciech Zwoliński, Michał Jachura, and Konrad Banaszek, "Optimizing deep-space optical communication under power constraints," Proc. SPIE 10524, Free-Space Laser Communication and Atmospheric Propagation XXX, 105240A (Presented at SPIE LASE: January 29, 2018; Published: 15 February 2018); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2289653.
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