Free-Space Optical Communications: Capacity Bounds, Approximations, and a New Sphere-Packing Perspective

Anas Chaaban, Jean-Marie Morvan, Mohamed-Slim Alouini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

126 Scopus citations


The capacity of the free-space optical channel is studied. A new recursive approach for bounding the capacity of the channel based on sphere-packing is proposed. This approach leads to new capacity upper bounds for a channel with a peak intensity constraint or an average intensity constraint. Under an average constraint only, the derived bound is tighter than an existing sphere-packing bound derived earlier by Farid and Hranilovic. The achievable rate of a truncated-Gaussian input distribution is also derived. It is shown that under both average and peak constraints, this achievable rate and the sphere-packing bounds are within a small gap at high SNR, leading to a simple high-SNR capacity approximation. Simple fitting functions that capture the best known achievable rate for the channel are provided. These functions can be of practical importance especially for the study of systems operating under atmospheric turbulence and misalignment conditions.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1176-1191
Number of pages16
JournalIEEE Transactions on Communications
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 3 2016


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