Abstract

We present an extensive analysis of an optical Blass-matrix architecture as a beamforming network with potential for multibeam operation in wireless systems. Its design relies on the use of phase shifters and Mach–Zehnder Interferometers (MZIs) inside an $M\times N$ matrix, and enables the generation of M beams by N-element antenna arrays. We start our analysis from an optical signal with amplitude modulation by discrete microwave tones, and confirm the possibility to translate its optical phase shifts inside the matrix into equivalent phase shifts in the microwave domain. We show this is possible when the input is an optical single-side band signal and the optical carrier is reinserted before photodetection. We extend the conclusions to the case of an optical signal carrying a microwave with quadrature amplitude modulation (QAM) and the case of simultaneous inputs at the M input ports. Based on this analysis, we propose a Blass-matrix configuration algorithm taking into account the properties of the MZIs. Through simulations, we validate the potential for multibeam operation, and evaluate the beamforming performance at 28.5 GHz with respect to the QAM order, symbol rate, and pulse shaping parameters. In all cases with rate up to 3 Gbaud, the bit-error rate remains lower than 10–3, showing that the beam squinting effect, which is present in our design, can be tolerated. Finally, we study the frequency dependence of the beamforming performance due to inevitable asymmetries of the MZIs and length variations of the waveguides, and evaluate the impact of the imperfections in the couplers inside the MZIs and the phase shifters. We show that in all cases the performance degradation is negligible for realistic fabrication and operation conditions.

© 2018 IEEE

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