Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Electrical Engineering (PhD)

College, School or Department Name

Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering


Michael C Roggemann


Free space optical (FSO) communication links can experience extreme signal degradation due to atmospheric turbulence induced spatial and temporal irradiance fuctuations (scintillation) in the laser wavefront. In addition, turbulence can cause the laser beam centroid to wander resulting in power fading, and sometimes complete loss of the signal. Spreading of the laser beam and jitter are also artifacts of atmospheric turbulence. To accurately predict the signal fading that occurs in a laser communication system and to get a true picture of how this affects crucial performance parameters like bit error rate (BER) it is important to analyze the probability density function (PDF) of the integrated irradiance fuctuations at the receiver. In addition, it is desirable to find a theoretical distribution that accurately models these ?uctuations under all propagation conditions. The PDF of integrated irradiance fuctuations is calculated from numerical wave-optic simulations of a laser after propagating through atmospheric turbulence to investigate the evolution of the distribution as the aperture diameter is increased. The simulation data distribution is compared to theoretical gamma-gamma and lognormal PDF models under a variety of scintillation regimes from weak to very strong. Our results show that the gamma-gamma PDF provides a good fit to the simulated data distribution for all aperture sizes studied from weak through moderate scintillation. In strong scintillation, the gamma-gamma PDF is a better fit to the distribution for point-like apertures and the lognormal PDF is a better fit for apertures the size of the atmospheric spatial coherence radius ρ0 or larger. In addition, the PDF of received power from a Gaussian laser beam, which has been adaptively compensated at the transmitter before propagation to the receiver of a FSO link in the moderate scintillation regime is investigated. The complexity of the adaptive optics (AO) system is increased in order to investigate the changes in the distribution of the received power and how this affects the BER. For the 10 km link, due to the non-reciprocal nature of the propagation path the optimal beam to transmit is unknown. These results show that a low-order level of complexity in the AO provides a better estimate for the optimal beam to transmit than a higher order for non-reciprocal paths. For the 20 km link distance it was found that, although minimal, all AO complexity levels provided an equivalent improvement in BER and that no AO complexity provided the correction needed for the optimal beam to transmit. Finally, the temporal power spectral density of received power from a FSO communication link is investigated. Simulated and experimental results for the coherence time calculated from the temporal correlation function are presented. Results for both simulation and experimental data show that the coherence time increases as the receiving aperture diameter increases. For finite apertures the coherence time increases as the communication link distance is increased. We conjecture that this is due to the increasing speckle size within the pupil plane of the receiving aperture for an increasing link distance.