Polarization-division multiplexing

Last updated

Polarization-division multiplexing (PDM) is a physical layer method for multiplexing signals carried on electromagnetic waves, allowing two channels of information to be transmitted on the same carrier frequency by using waves of two orthogonal polarization states. It is used in microwave links such as satellite television downlinks to double the bandwidth by using two orthogonally polarized feed antennas in satellite dishes. It is also used in fiber optic communication by transmitting separate left and right circularly polarized light beams through the same optical fiber.

In the seven-layer OSI model of computer networking, the physical layer or layer 1 is the first and lowest layer. This layer may be implemented by a PHY chip.

Multiplexing method by which multiple analog or digital signals are combined into one signal over a shared medium

In telecommunications and computer networks, multiplexing is a method by which multiple analog or digital signals are combined into one signal over a shared medium. The aim is to share a scarce resource. For example, in telecommunications, several telephone calls may be carried using one wire. Multiplexing originated in telegraphy in the 1870s, and is now widely applied in communications. In telephony, George Owen Squier is credited with the development of telephone carrier multiplexing in 1910.

Polarization (waves) property of waves that can oscillate with more than one orientation

Polarization is a property applying to transverse waves that specifies the geometrical orientation of the oscillations. In a transverse wave, the direction of the oscillation is perpendicular to the direction of motion of the wave. A simple example of a polarized transverse wave is vibrations traveling along a taut string (see image); for example, in a musical instrument like a guitar string. Depending on how the string is plucked, the vibrations can be in a vertical direction, horizontal direction, or at any angle perpendicular to the string. In contrast, in longitudinal waves, such as sound waves in a liquid or gas, the displacement of the particles in the oscillation is always in the direction of propagation, so these waves do not exhibit polarization. Transverse waves that exhibit polarization include electromagnetic waves such as light and radio waves, gravitational waves, and transverse sound waves in solids.



Polarization techniques have long been used in radio transmission to reduce interference between channels, particularly at VHF frequencies and beyond.

Under some circumstances, the data rate of a radio link can be doubled by transmitting two separate channels of radio waves on the same frequency, using orthogonal polarization. For example, in point to point terrestrial microwave links, the transmitting antenna can have two feed antennas; a vertical feed antenna which transmits microwaves with their electric field vertical (vertical polarization), and a horizontal feed antenna which transmits microwaves on the same frequency with their electric field horizontal (horizontal polarization). These two separate channels can be received by vertical and horizontal feed antennas at the receiving station. For satellite communications, orthogonal circular polarization is often used instead, (i.e. right- and left-handed), as the sense of circular polarization is not changed by the relative orientation of the antenna in space.

Circular polarization

In electrodynamics, circular polarization of an electromagnetic wave is a polarization state in which, at each point, the electric field of the wave has a constant magnitude but its direction rotates with time at a steady rate in a plane perpendicular to the direction of the wave.

A dual polarization system comprises usually two independent transmitters, each of which can be connected by means of waveguide or TEM lines (such as coaxial cables or stripline or quasi-TEM such as microstrip) to a single-polarization antenna for its standard operation. Although two separate single-polarization antennas can be used for PDM (or two adjacent feeds in a reflector antenna), radiating two independent polarization states can be often easily achieved by means of a single dual-polarization antenna.

Waveguide structure that guides waves, typically electromagnetic waves

A waveguide is a structure that guides waves, such as electromagnetic waves or sound, with minimal loss of energy by restricting expansion to one dimension or two. There is a similar effect in water waves constrained within a canal, or guns that have barrels which restrict hot gas expansion to maximize energy transfer to their bullets. Without the physical constraint of a waveguide, wave amplitudes decrease according to the inverse square law as they expand into three dimensional space.

A transverse mode of electromagnetic radiation is a particular electromagnetic field pattern of the radiation in the plane perpendicular to the radiation's propagation direction. Transverse modes occur in radio waves and microwaves confined to a waveguide, and also in light waves in an optical fiber and in a laser's optical resonator.

Coaxial cable A type of electrical cable with an inner conductor surrounded by concentric insulating layer and conducting shield

Coaxial cable, or coax is a type of electrical cable that has an inner conductor surrounded by a tubular insulating layer, surrounded by a tubular conducting shield. The outer metallic work as a shield against noise and as a conductor, which complete the circuit. The whole cable is covered by a plastic cover.Many coaxial cables also have an insulating outer sheath or jacket. The term coaxial comes from the inner conductor and the outer shield sharing a geometric axis. Coaxial cable was invented by English physicist, engineer, and mathematician Oliver Heaviside, who patented the design in 1880.

When the transmitter has a waveguide interface, typically rectangular in order to be in single-mode region at the operating frequency, a dual-polarized antenna with a circular (or square) waveguide port is the radiating element chosen for modern communication systems. The circular or square waveguide port is needed so that at least two degenerate modes are supported. An ad-hoc component must be therefore introduced in such situations to merge two separate single-polarized signals into one dual-polarized physical interface, namely an ortho-mode transducer (OMT).

Orthomode transducer

An orthomode transducer (OMT) is a waveguide component. It is commonly referred to as a polarisation duplexer. Orthomode transducers serve either to combine or to separate two orthogonally polarized microwave signal paths. One of the paths forms the uplink, which is transmitted over the same waveguide as the received signal path, or downlink path. Such a device may be part of a VSAT antenna feed or a terrestrial microwave radio feed; for example, OMTs are often used with a feed horn to isolate orthogonal polarizations of a signal and to transfer transmit and receive signals to different ports.

In case the transmitter has TEM or quasi-TEM output connections, instead, a dual-polarization antenna often presents separate connections (i.e. a printed square patch antenna with two feed points), and embeds the function of an OMT by means of intrinsically transferring the two excitation signals to the orthogonal polarization states.

Patch antenna

A patch antenna is a type of radio antenna with a low profile, which can be mounted on a flat surface. It consists of a flat rectangular sheet or "patch" of metal, mounted over a larger sheet of metal called a ground plane. They are the original type of microstrip antenna described by Howell in 1972; the two metal sheets together form a resonant piece of microstrip transmission line with a length of approximately one-half wavelength of the radio waves. The radiation mechanism arises from discontinuities at each truncated edge of the microstrip transmission line. The radiation at the edges causes the antenna to act slightly larger electrically than its physical dimensions, so in order for the antenna to be resonant, a length of microstrip transmission line slightly shorter than one-half the wavelength at the frequency is used. The patch antenna is mainly practical at microwave frequencies, at which wavelengths are short enough that the patches are conveniently small. It is widely used in portable wireless devices because of the ease of fabricating it on printed circuit boards. Multiple patch antennas on the same substrate (see image) called microstrip antennas, can be used to make high gain array antennas, and phased arrays in which the beam can be electronically steered.

A dual-polarized signal thus carries two independent data streams to a receiving antenna, which can itself be a single-polarized one, for receiving only one of the two streams at a time, or a dual-polarized model, again relaying its received signal to two single-polarization output connectors (via an OMT if in waveguide).

The ideal dual-polarization system lies its foundation onto the perfect orthogonality of the two polarization states, and any of the single-polarized interfaces at the receiver would theoretically contain only the signal meant to be transmitted by the desired polarization, thus introducing no interference and allowing the two data streams to be multiplexed and demultiplexed transparently without any degradation due to the coexistence with the other.

Companies working on commercial PDM technology include Siae Microelettronica, Huawei and Alcatel-Lucent.

Some types of outdoor microwave radios have integrated orthomode transducers and operate in both polarities from a single radio unit, performing cross-polarization interference cancellation (XPIC) within the radio unit itself. Alternatively, the orthomode transducer may be built into the antenna, and allow connection of separate radios, or separate ports of the same radio, to the antenna.

CableFree 2+0 XPIC Microwave Link showing OMT and two ODUs connected to H & V polarity ports CableFree 2+0 HCR Microwave Link.jpg
CableFree 2+0 XPIC Microwave Link showing OMT and two ODUs connected to H & V polarity ports

Cross-Polarization Interference Cancellation (XPIC)

Practical systems, however, suffer from non-ideal behaviors which mix the signals and the polarization states together:

As a consequence, the signal at one of the received single-polarization terminals actually contains a dominant quantity of the desired signal (meant to be transmitted onto one polarization) and a minor amount of undesired signal (meant to be transported by the other polarization), which represents an interference over the former. As a consequence, each received signal must be cleared of the interference level in order to reach the required signal-to-noise-and-interference ratio (SNIR) needed by the receiving stages, which may be of the order of more than 30 dB for high-level M-QAM schemes. Such operation is carried out by a cross-polarization-interference cancellation (XPIC), typically implemented as a baseband digital stage.

Compared to spatial multiplexing, received signals for a PMD system have a much more favourable carrier-to-interference ratio, as the amount of leakage is often much smaller than the useful signal, whereas spatial multiplexing operates with an amount of interference equal to the amount of useful signal. This observation, valid for a good PMD design, allows the adaptive XPIC to be designed in a simpler manner than a general MIMO cancelling scheme, since the starting point (without cancellation) is typically already sufficient for establishing a low-capacity link by means of a reduced modulation.

An XPIC typically acts on one of the received signals "C" containing the desired signal as dominant term and uses the other received "X" signal too (containing the interfering signal as dominant term). The XPIC algorithm multiplies the "X" by a complex coefficient and then adds it to the received "C". The complex recombination coefficient is adjusted adaptively to maximize the MMSE as measured on the recombination. Once the MMSE is improved to the required level, the two terminals can switch to high-order modulations.

Differential Cross-Polarized Wireless Communications

Is a novel method for polarized antenna transmission utilizing a differential technique . [1] .


Polarization-division multiplexing is typically used together with phase modulation or optical QAM, allowing transmission speeds of 100 Gbit/s or more over a single wavelength. Sets of PDM wavelength signals can then be carried over wavelength-division multiplexing infrastructure, potentially substantially expanding its capacity. Multiple polarization signals can be combined to form new states of polarization, which is known as parallel polarization state generation. [2]

The major problem with the practical use of PDM over fiber-optic transmission systems are the drifts in polarization state that occur continuously over time due to physical changes in the fibre environment. Over a long-distance system, these drifts accumulate progressively without limit, resulting in rapid and erratic rotation of the polarized light's Jones vector over the entire Poincaré sphere. Polarization mode dispersion, polarization-dependent loss. and cross-polarization modulation are other phenomena that can cause problems in PDM systems.

For this reason, PDM is generally used in conjunction with advanced channel coding techniques, allowing the use of digital signal processing to decode the signal in a way that is resilient to polarization-related signal artifacts. Modulations used include PDM-QPSK and PDM-DQPSK. [3]

Companies working on commercial PDM technology include Alcatel-Lucent, Ciena, Cisco Systems, Huawei and Infinera.

See also

Related Research Articles

Microwave form of electromagnetic radiation

Microwaves are a form of electromagnetic radiation with wavelengths ranging from about one meter to one millimeter; with frequencies between 300 MHz (1 m) and 300 GHz (1 mm). Different sources define different frequency ranges as microwaves; the above broad definition includes both UHF and EHF bands. A more common definition in radio engineering is the range between 1 and 100 GHz. In all cases, microwaves include the entire SHF band at minimum. Frequencies in the microwave range are often referred to by their IEEE radar band designations: S, C, X, Ku, K, or Ka band, or by similar NATO or EU designations.

Fresnel zone region of space between a transmitting and receiving antenna

A Fresnel zone, named after physicist Augustin-Jean Fresnel, is one of a series of confocal prolate ellipsoidal regions of space between and around a transmitter and a receiver. Transmitted radio, sound, or light waves can follow slightly different paths before reaching a receiver, especially if there are obstructions or reflecting objects between the two. The waves can arrive at slightly different times and will be slightly out of phase due to the different path lengths. Depending on the magnitude of the phase shift, the waves can interfere constructively and destructively. The size of the calculated Fresnel zone at any particular distance from the transmitter and receiver can help to predict whether obstructions or discontinuities along the path will cause significant interference.

Transmitter Electronic device that emits radio waves

In electronics and telecommunications a transmitter or radio transmitter is an electronic device which produces radio waves with an antenna. The transmitter itself generates a radio frequency alternating current, which is applied to the antenna. When excited by this alternating current, the antenna radiates radio waves.

Frequency-division multiplexing multiplexing dividing a comm medium into non-overlapping frequency bands, each carrying a separate signal

In telecommunications, frequency-division multiplexing (FDM) is a technique by which the total bandwidth available in a communication medium is divided into a series of non-overlapping frequency bands, each of which is used to carry a separate signal. This allows a single transmission medium such as a cable or optical fiber to be shared by multiple independent signals. Another use is to carry separate serial bits or segments of a higher rate signal in parallel.

Antenna (radio) electrical device which converts electric power into radio waves, and vice versa

In radio engineering, an antenna is the interface between radio waves propagating through space and electric currents moving in metal conductors, used with a transmitter or receiver. In transmission, a radio transmitter supplies an electric current to the antenna's terminals, and the antenna radiates the energy from the current as electromagnetic waves. In reception, an antenna intercepts some of the power of a radio wave in order to produce an electric current at its terminals, that is applied to a receiver to be amplified. Antennas are essential components of all radio equipment.

Parabolic antenna type of antenna

A parabolic antenna is an antenna that uses a parabolic reflector, a curved surface with the cross-sectional shape of a parabola, to direct the radio waves. The most common form is shaped like a dish and is popularly called a dish antenna or parabolic dish. The main advantage of a parabolic antenna is that it has high directivity. It functions similarly to a searchlight or flashlight reflector to direct the radio waves in a narrow beam, or receive radio waves from one particular direction only. Parabolic antennas have some of the highest gains, meaning that they can produce the narrowest beamwidths, of any antenna type. In order to achieve narrow beamwidths, the parabolic reflector must be much larger than the wavelength of the radio waves used, so parabolic antennas are used in the high frequency part of the radio spectrum, at UHF and microwave (SHF) frequencies, at which the wavelengths are small enough that conveniently-sized reflectors can be used.

Low-noise block downconverter

A low-noise block downconverter (LNB) is the receiving device mounted on satellite dishes used for satellite TV reception, which collects the radio waves from the dish and converts them to a signal which is sent through a cable to the receiver inside the building. Also called a low-noise block, low-noise converter (LNC), or even low-noise downconverter (LND), the device is sometimes inaccurately called a low-noise amplifier (LNA).

This is an index of articles relating to electronics and electricity or natural electricity and things that run on electricity and things that use or conduct electricity.


A diplexer is a passive device that implements frequency-domain multiplexing. Two ports are multiplexed onto a third port. The signals on ports L and H occupy disjoint frequency bands. Consequently, the signals on L and H can coexist on port S without interfering with each other.

Horn antenna

A horn antenna or microwave horn is an antenna that consists of a flaring metal waveguide shaped like a horn to direct radio waves in a beam. Horns are widely used as antennas at UHF and microwave frequencies, above 300 MHz. They are used as feed antennas for larger antenna structures such as parabolic antennas, as standard calibration antennas to measure the gain of other antennas, and as directive antennas for such devices as radar guns, automatic door openers, and microwave radiometers. Their advantages are moderate directivity, low standing wave ratio (SWR), broad bandwidth, and simple construction and adjustment.

Feed line Transmission line in radio antennas

In a radio antenna, the feed line (feedline), or feeder, is the cable or other transmission line that connects the antenna with the radio transmitter or receiver. In a transmitting antenna, it feeds the radio frequency (RF) current from the transmitter to the antenna, where it is radiated as radio waves. In a receiving antenna it transfers the tiny RF voltage induced in the antenna by the radio wave to the receiver. In order to carry RF current efficiently, feed lines are made of specialized types of cable called transmission line. The most widely used types of feed line are coaxial cable, twin-lead, ladder line, and at microwave frequencies, waveguide.

Antenna diversity Redundancy method to improve communications reliability

Antenna diversity, also known as space diversity or spatial diversity, is any one of several wireless diversity schemes that uses two or more antennas to improve the quality and reliability of a wireless link. Often, especially in urban and indoor environments, there is no clear line-of-sight (LOS) between transmitter and receiver. Instead the signal is reflected along multiple paths before finally being received. Each of these bounces can introduce phase shifts, time delays, attenuations, and distortions that can destructively interfere with one another at the aperture of the receiving antenna.

A land mobile radio system (LMRS) is a person-to-person voice communication system consisting of two-way radio transceivers which can be mobile, installed in vehicles, or portable (walkie-talkies). Public land mobile radio systems are made for use exclusively by public safety organizations such as police, fire, and ambulance services, and other governmental organizations, and use special frequencies reserved for these services. Private land mobile radio systems are designed for private commercial use, by firms such as taxis or delivery services. Most systems are half-duplex, with multiple radios sharing a single radio channel, so only one radio can transmit at a time. The transceiver is normally in receiving mode so the user can hear other radios on the channel; when a user wants to talk he presses a push to talk button on his microphone, which turns on his transmitter. They use channels in the VHF or UHF bands giving them a limited range, usually 3 to 20 miles depending on terrain, although repeaters installed on tall buildings, hills or mountain peaks can be used to increase the coverage area. Older systems use AM or FM modulation, while some recent systems use digital modulation allowing them to transmit data as well as sound.

Conical scanning

Conical scanning is a system used in early radar units to improve their accuracy, as well as making it easier to steer the antenna properly to point at a target. Conical scanning is similar in concept to the earlier lobe switching concept used on some of the earliest radars, and many examples of lobe switching sets were modified in the field to conical scanning during World War II, notably the German Würzburg radar. Antenna guidance can be made entirely automatic, as in the American SCR-584. Potential failure modes and susceptibility to deception jamming led to the replacement of conical scan systems with monopulse radar sets. They are still used by the Deep Space Network for maintaining communications links to space probes. The spin-stabilized Pioneer 10 and Pioneer 11 probes used onboard conical scanning maneuvers to track Earth in its orbit.

Monopulse radar is a radar system that uses additional encoding of the radio signal to provide accurate directional information. The name refers to its ability to extract range and direction from a single signal pulse.

In telecommunications, a diversity scheme refers to a method for improving the reliability of a message signal by using two or more communication channels with different characteristics. Diversity is mainly used in radio communication and is a common technique for combatting fading and co-channel interference and avoiding error bursts. It is based on the fact that individual channels experience different levels of fading and interference. Multiple versions of the same signal may be transmitted and/or received and combined in the receiver. Alternatively, a redundant forward error correction code may be added and different parts of the message transmitted over different channels. Diversity techniques may exploit the multipath propagation, resulting in a diversity gain, often measured in decibels.

Vivaldi antenna type of broadband antenna

A Vivaldi antenna or Vivaldi aerial or tapered slot antenna is a co-planar broadband-antenna, which can be made from a solid piece of sheet metal, a printed circuit board, or from a dielectric plate metalized on one or both sides.

A radio science subsystem (RSS) is a subsystem placed on board a spacecraft for radio science purposes.


XPIC, or cross-polarization interference cancelling technology, is an algorithm to suppress mutual interference between two received streams in a Polarization-division multiplexing communication system.


  1. Differential Cross-Polarized Wireless Communications, Scientific Research, 2019-04-02
  2. She, Alan; Capasso, Federico (17 May 2016). "Parallel Polarization State Generation". Scientific Reports. Nature. 6: 26019. arXiv: 1602.04463 . Bibcode:2016NatSR...626019S. doi:10.1038/srep26019. PMC   4869035 . PMID   27184813.
  3. "The Road to 100G Networking" (PDF). Ciena. 2008. Retrieved 2012-06-25.