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


Zhijun Zhao


A free-space optical (FSO) laser communication system with perfect fast-tracking experiences random power fading due to atmospheric turbulence. For a FSO communication system without fast-tracking or with imperfect fast-tracking, the fading probability density function (pdf) is also affected by the pointing error. In this thesis, the overall fading pdfs of FSO communication system with pointing errors are calculated using an analytical method based on the fast-tracked on-axis and off-axis fading pdfs and the fast-tracked beam profile of a turbulence channel. The overall fading pdf is firstly studied for the FSO communication system with collimated laser beam. Large-scale numerical wave-optics simulations are performed to verify the analytically calculated fading pdf with collimated beam under various turbulence channels and pointing errors. The calculated overall fading pdfs are almost identical to the directly simulated fading pdfs. The calculated overall fading pdfs are also compared with the gamma-gamma (GG) and the log-normal (LN) fading pdf models. They fit better than both the GG and LN fading pdf models under different receiver aperture sizes in all the studied cases. Further, the analytical method is expanded to the FSO communication system with beam diverging angle case. It is shown that the gamma pdf model is still valid for the fast-tracked on-axis and off-axis fading pdfs with point-like receiver aperture when the laser beam is propagated with beam diverging angle. Large-scale numerical wave-optics simulations prove that the analytically calculated fading pdfs perfectly fit the overall fading pdfs for both focused and diverged beam cases. The influence of the fast-tracked on-axis and off-axis fading pdfs, the fast-tracked beam profile, and the pointing error on the overall fading pdf is also discussed. At last, the analytical method is compared with the previous heuristic fading pdf models proposed since 1970s. Although some of previously proposed fading pdf models provide close fit to the experiment and simulation data, these close fits only exist under particular conditions. Only analytical method shows accurate fit to the directly simulated fading pdfs under different turbulence strength, propagation distances, receiver aperture sizes and pointing errors.