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This article has been accepted for publication in a future issue of this journal, but has not been

fully edited. Content may change prior to final publication. Citation information: DOI 10.1109/LPT.2017.2657228, IEEE Photonics
Technology Letters

Performance Analysis of Multi-Hop Underwater

Wireless Optical Communication Systems
Mohammad Vahid Jamali, Ata Chizari, and Jawad A. Salehi, Fellow, IEEE

Abstract—In this letter, we analytically evaluate the end-to- ݄ሺͳሻ ሺ‫ݐ‬ሻ ݄ሺʹሻ ሺ‫ݐ‬ሻ ݄ሺܰ൅ͳሻ ሺ‫ݐ‬ሻ
end bit error rate (BER) of point-to-point multi-hop underwater
wireless optical communication (UWOC) systems with respect to ܵ ܴͳ  ܴʹ  ܴܰ  ‫ܦ‬
all degrading effects of the UWOC channel, namely absorption,
scattering, and turbulence-induced fading. To do so, we first
derive the BER expression of a single-hop UWOC link as Fig. 1. Block diagram of the UWOC system with multi-hop transmission.
the building block for end-to-end BER evaluation. We also
apply Gauss-Hermite quadrature formula to obtain the closed- with much reduced impairing effects, to significantly improve
form solution for the system BER in the case of lognormal the system performance or equivalently increase the viable
underwater fading channel. Numerical results demonstrate that communication range without increasing the total transmitted
multi-hop transmission, by alleviating channel impairments, can power. Moreover, whereas the short range of UWOC systems
significantly improve the system performance and extend the is their main drawback compared to their acoustic counterpart,
viable end-to-end communication distance.
Index Terms—Underwater wireless optical communications,
by employing multi-hop transmission one can increase the
BER performance, multi-hop transmission, serial relaying. total transmitted power by the number of intermediate relay
nodes to support significantly longer distances while maintain-
I. I NTRODUCTION ing the safe transmit power density. This letter, as a pioneering
work on multi-hop UWOC systems, accurately considers all
ODAY’S growing interest to underwater explorations ne-
T cessitates design of appropriate and efficient underwater
communication methods and systems. In comparison to the
of the channel degrading effects and derives the required ex-
pressions for the BER performance of such systems in general
case to quantitatively determine how much performance gains
traditional underwater acoustic communications, the optical
they introduce and how long communication ranges they can
counterpart has the advantages of higher bandwidth, lower
time latency, and better security. These unique features make
underwater wireless optical communication (UWOC) as a II. C HANNEL AND S YSTEM M ODEL
powerful alternative for high-speed and large-data underwater A. Channel Model
communications. However, due to the three main degrading
In order to include the absorption and scattering effects, we
effects of UWOC channels, i.e., absorption, scattering, and
apply MC method to simulate the UWOC channel impulse
turbulence, the present capability of UWOC systems is limited
response similar to [3] and [9]. We denote this fading-free
to ranges that are typically less than 100 m, which hampers (i)
their widespread usage. impulse response of the ith hop by h0 (t). On the other
The primary works on UWOC have mainly focused on hand, to consider the ith hop turbulence effects, we multiply
investigating the absorption and scattering effects of under- h0 (t) by a fading coefficient, h̃(i) , which for weak oceanic
water optical channels [1], [2]. Meanwhile, UWOC channel turbulence can be modeled as a random variable (RV) with
impulse response has been modeled using Monte Carlo (MC) lognormal probability density function (PDF) [10], [11] as;
 ( )2 
approach in [3]. Also a cellular UWOC network based on (i)
1  ln(h̃ )−2µX 
optical code division multiple access (OCDMA) technique fh̃(i)(h̃(i) ) = √ exp−

2 , (1)
has been proposed in [4] while potential applications and 2
2h̃(i) 2πσXi 8σ Xi
challenges of such a network, and the performance of its
mobile users have been elaborated in [5] and [6], respectively. where µXi and σX 2
are respectively the mean and variance of
On the other hand, theoretical and experimental studies on the the Gaussian distributed log-amplitude factor Xi = 12 ln(h̃(i) ).
fading of UWOC channels have been carried out in [7], [8]. To guarantee that fading neither attenuates nor amplifies the
It is shown that all of the channel impairing effects, i.e., average power, we normalize fading coefficients as E[h̃(i) ] =
loss, delay spread, and fading variance rapidly increase as 1, which implies that µXi = −σX 2
. For the light wave with
the link length increases [3], [7]. This distance-dependency instantaneous intensity I , the scintillation index is defined
( i )
motivates the design of a multi-hop UWOC system, in order as S.I. = E[Ii2 ] − E2 [Ii ] /E2 [Ii ], which for weak optical
to divide the total communication distance to shorter ones each turbulence relates to the log-amplitude variance as S.I. =
The authors are with the Optical Networks Research Laboratory exp(4σX 2
) − 1 [12].
(ONRL), Department of Electrical Engineering, Sharif University of
Technology, Tehran, Iran (e-mails:, B. System Model, and As it is illustrated in Fig. 1, we consider a UWOC system
Copyright (c) 2016 IEEE. Personal use of this material is permitted.
However, permission to use this material for any other purposes must be with N intermediate relay nodes in a serial topology. As
obtained from the IEEE by sending a request to opposed to cooperative communication and parallel relaying,

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Technology Letters

in multi-hop transmission each node only receives the trans- conditional probability of error when “b0 ” is sent can be
mitted signal of its previous node because the transmitted obtained as;
power of each transmitter is designed such that guarantee  [ ∑−1 ]
a good performance for each intermediate hop. Each relay h̃ γ (s)+(−1)b0 +1 k=−L 2bk γ (I,k)
node operates based on bit detect-and-forward (BDF) strategy, Pbe|b0 ,h̃,bk= Q , (4)
i.e., each ith node1 after detecting the received optical signal
transmits the detected signal, with the average transmitted √ ∫∞
power per bit of Pb , to the next node. Therefore, the where Q (x) = (1/ 2π) x exp(−y 2 /2)dy is the Gaussian-
transmitted data sequence of the ith node has the form Q function. The final BER can then be obtained by averaging
∑∞ (i) (i) over h̃ and all 2L possible data sequences for bk s as follows;
S (i) (t) = k=−∞ bk P (t − kTb ), in which Tb is the

1 ∑ ∞1[ ]
bit duration time and bk ∈ {0, 1} is the kth time slot
transmitted bit of the ith node, representing on-off keying Pbe = L Pbe|0,h̃,bk + Pbe|1,h̃,bk fh̃ (h̃)dh̃. (5)
2 0 2
(OOK) modulation. Moreover, P (i) (t − kTb ) is the kth time bk

slot transmitted optical signal of the ith node with the average In the case of lognormal underwater fading channel, the
power per bit of Pb , which, for the sake of fairness, relates averaging over fading coefficient in (5) can effectively be
∑N (i)
to the total transmitted power per bit as i=0 Pb = Pb . calculated using Gauss-Hermite quadrature formula (GHQF)
The received signal by the ith node can be expressed as; [17, Eq. (25.4.46)] as follows;

∑ ∫ ∞
(i) (i−1) (i) (i) (i−1) (i) 1
Pbe|b0 ,h̃=e2x ,bk e−(x−µX ) /2σX dx
2 2
y (t) = S (t)∗h (t) = h̃ bk Γ (t−kTb ), (2) Pbe|b0 ,bk = √ 2
k=−∞ 2πσX x=−∞
( ( √ ))
1 ∑
(i) V
where Γ(i) (t) = P (i−1) (t) ∗ h0 (t), and ∗ denotes the convo- ≈√ wq Q Cb0 exp 2xq 2σX 2 + 2µ , (6)
lution operation. Each receiver, either in relay nodes or in the π q=1
destination, performs symbol-by-symbol processing which is
suboptimal in the presence of inter-symbol interference (ISI) in which V is the order of approximation, wq , q = 1, 2, ..., V ,
[13]. In other words, each receiver integrates over each Tb are the weights of the V th-order approximation and xq is the
seconds and compares the result with an appropriate threshold qth zero of the V th-order Hermite polynomial, HV (x) [17].
to detect the received optical signal in the presence of noise. Moreover, the parameter Cb0 in (6) is defined as;
Since different noise components are additive and independent ∑−1
from each other, we model them as an equivalent component γ (s)+(−1)b0 +1 k=−L 2bk γ (I,k)
Cb0 = . (7)
with Gaussian distribution [14]. Moreover, we assume that the 2σTb
signal-dependent shot noise has a negligible effect with respect
to the other noise components and hence the noise variance is Hereafter, for the sake of brevity, we denote the ith node
independent from the incoming optical signal power [15]. conditional BER with Pcbe−b0 which can be obtained as (4).


In this section, we analytically obtain the average BER of
single-hop transmission as the building block for end-to-end In this section, we analyze the end-to-end BER of the relay-
BER evaluation. Based on Eq. (2), the 0th time slot integrated assisted UWOC system relying on the results of the previous
current of the receiver output can be expressed as; section. Let U denote the number of nodes that incorrectly
detect their previous node’s 0th time slot transmitted bit.
∑ For this case, the conditional end-to-end correct detection
r(b0 ) = b0 h̃γ (s) + h̃ bk γ (I,k) + vTb , (3)
probability, Pe2e−b0 (c|{β̄}, H), can be obtained as;
∫T ∫ −(k−1)Tb Pe2e−b0 (c|{β̄}, H) =
where γ (s) = R 0 b Γ(t)dt, γ (I,k) = R −kTb Γ(t)dt,
and R = ηq/hf is the photodetector responsivity. Besides, ∑
N +1

η, q, h, f , and L are the photodetector quantum efficiency, Pe2e−b0 (c|U, {β̄}, H) Pr(U = u|b0 , {β̄}, H), (8)
electron charge, Planck’s constant, optical source frequency, u=0

and channel memory, respectively. Furthermore, vTb is the

in which H = (h̃(1) , h̃(2) , ..., h̃(N +1) ) is the fading coefficients
receiver integrated noise component which has a Gaussian
vector and {β̄} implies the transmitted data sequences of all
distribution with mean zero and variance σT2 b [14], [16].
transmitters. Pr(U = u|b0 , {β̄}, H) is the conditional proba-
Owing to the slow fading nature of UWOC channels
bility that u nodes out of N + 1 nodes incorrectly detect the
[8], we assume the availability of channel state information
received bit. Obviously, Pe2e−b0 (c|U = odd, {β̄}, H) = 0 and
(CSI) which allows the receiver to compare its integrated
Pe2e−b0 (c|U = even, {β̄}, H) = 1. Therefore, the end-to-end
current over each Tb seconds with the optimum threshold
∑ BER can be evaluated as Pe2e−b0 (error|{β̄}, H) =
value h̃γ (s) /2 to minimize the detection error. Therefore, the
1 − u∈ΛN Pr(U = u|b0 , {β̄}, H), where ΛN specifies the
1 In our system model, we denote the source node S as the 0th node, relay set of all even⌊ numbers⌋ in the set {0, 1, ..., N + 1}, i.e.,
Ri as the ith node, and destination D as the (N + 1)th node. ΛN = {0, 2, ..., N2+1 × 2}, where ⌊x⌋ is the integer portion

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Technology Letters

of the real value x. On the other hand, Pr(U = u|b0 , {β̄}, H) S OME OF THE IMPORTANT PARAMETERS FOR THE CHANNEL AND NOISE
for u = 0, 1, ..., N + 1 can be obtained as; CHARACTERIZATION [3], [9], [16].

N +1 ∑
N +1 ∑
N +1 ( Coefficient Symbol Value
(s1 )
Pr(U = u|b0 , {β̄}, H) = ... Pcbe−b 0 Half angle field of view FOV 400
s1 =1 s2 =s1 +1 su =su−1 +1 Receiver aperture diameter D0 20 cm

N +1 [ ]) Source wavelength λ 532 nm
(s ) (s ) (s ) Transmitter full beam diver- θdiv 0.020
× Pcbe−b
× ... × Pcbe−b
× 1 − Pcbe−b
. (9) gence angle
su+1 =1
Quantum efficiency η 0.8
su+1 ̸=s1 ,s2 ,...,su
Equivalent temperature Te 290 K
Load resistance RL 100 Ω
Averaging Pe2e−b0 (error|{∑ β̄}, H) over {β̄} and H results into Dark current Idc 1.226 × 10−9 A
Pe2e−b0 (error) = 1 − u∈ΛN Pr(U∑= u|b0 ), where ∫ Pr(U = Background mean count rate nb 1.8094 × 108 1/s
u|b0 ) is defined as Pr(U = u|b0 ) = {β̄} P ({β̄}) H Pr(U = Rate of dissipation of mean- χT 2 × 10−7 K2 /s
square temperature
u|b0 , {β̄}, H)f (H)dH, in which P ({β̄}) and f (H) are the Rate of dissipation of turbu- ε 1.5 × 10−5 m2 /s3
joint PDFs of β̄s and h̃(i) s, respectively. Since bk s are lent kinetic energy per unit
independent with identical probability and h̃(i) s are also mass of fluid
Relative strength of tempera- w −2.5
independent, Pr(U = u|b0 ) reduces into a similar form to ture and salinity fluctuations
(i) (i)
Eq. (9) except that Pcbe−b0 is replaced by Pbe−b0 which is the 0
10 Analytical,
averaged form of Pcbe−b0 and is defined as; Integral

1 ∑
GHQF Series
(i) (i) Simulations
Pbe−b0 = Li Pcbe−b0 fh̃(i) (h̃(i) )dh̃(i) . (10) 10

Average BER
2 (i−1) h̃ (i)
bk −6 45 m
10 22.5 m
9m 15 m

Therefore, the end-to-end average BER of UWOC systems 10


with serial BDF relaying can be obtained through one-

dimensional integrals which in the case of weak oceanic 10 11.25 m

turbulence leads to a closed-form solution, using GHQF, as 10


demonstrated in (6). −20 −10 0 10 20 30 40 50

Total average transmitted power per bit, Pb [dBm]
60 70

It is worth mentioning that in some general scenarios (e.g.,

the following two cases), Pr(U = u|b0 ) and therefore the Fig. 2. BER of a single-hop UWOC system with 1 Gbps data rate and
average BER can more explicitly be expressed. various link ranges, i.e., d0 = 45 m, 22.5 m, 15 m, 11.25 m, and 9 m.
Senario I: The form of Eq. (9) suggests that Pr(U = u|b0 )
rapidly decreases for larger values of u, since it is propor-
tional to the product of the BERs of u nodes. Therefore, to In this section, we present the numerical results for the BER
simplify the average end-to-end BER expression, we make an of relay-assisted UWOC system. We simulate the channel im-
assumption: although it is possible to correctly detect a bit pulse response similar to [3], [9] and the channel scintillation
at the destination despite of incorrect detection in some of index for a propagating plane wave like [7]. Table I shows
the intermediate relay nodes (i.e., when u ̸= 0), we neglect some of the important parameters for the channel simulation
these fortunate events and assume that a bit can correctly be and noise characterization. Although all of our derivations in
detected at the destination if and only if all of the receivers this letter are valid for any water type and for both diffusive
detect without an error (i.e., when u = 0). This assumption LED-based and collimated laser-based UWOC links, for the
is valid particularly when each hop has a good performance, sake of brevity, here, we assume a laser-based UWOC system
(i) established in 30 m depth coastal water [3], [9]. Moreover,
i.e., a small Pbe−b0 . In this case, the average end-to-end BER
can be evaluated as; perfect alignment is assumed owing to the highly scattering
nature of UWOC channels.

N +1 [ ]
(i) Fig. 2 illustrates the BER of a single-hop UWOC system
Pe2e−b0 (error) = 1 − 1 − Pbe−b0 . (11) for various link ranges and 1 Gbps data transmission rate,
obtained using Eq. (10). As expected, increasing the range of
Senario II: Suppose that all links have the same average communication severely degrades the performance. Moreover,
(i) we applied (6) to calculate the system BER using GHQF. It
BER of Pbe−b0 = Pbe−b0 . This is a valid assumption for
example when all hops have the same link length and water is observed that the system BER can effectively be calculated
quality and all receivers have the same structure. In this case, using only V = 30 points.
the average BER of the system can be obtained as follows; In Fig. 3, we applied the results of photon-counting meth-
ods, namely Gaussian and saddle-point approximations [18],
Pe2e−b0 (error) = 1− [19], to evaluate the system BER in the presence of shot noise.
∑ (N + 1) u N +1−u
As it can be seen, Gaussian approximation can provide rela-
(Pbe−b0 ) (1 − Pbe−b0 ) . (12) tively the same results as saddle-point approximation. Hence,
u∈ΛN due to its simplicity and acceptable accuracy, Gaussian approx-

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Technology Letters

Analytical channel, namely absorption, scattering, and fading. Relying on
Gaussian Gauss-Hermite quadrature formula a closed-form solution for
10 Saddle−Point
the BER of system under weak oceanic turbulence obtained.
Excellent matches between analytical results and numerical
Average BER

−6 45 m
simulations verified the accuracy of our derived expressions
10 22.5 m
15 m for the BER of multi-hop UWOC system with bit detect-
−8 and-forward relaying. Additionally, our results demonstrated
that to reach wide-range underwater optical communications,
10 11.25 m
designing the relay-assisted topology should be of utmost
−12 importance. For instance, dual-hop transmission in 45 m and
−20 −10 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70
Total average transmitted power per bit, Pb [dBm] 22.5 m coastal water links, improves the system performance
at the BER of 10−6 by 39 dB and 17.5 dB, respectively.
Fig. 3. Comparing different methods in evaluating the average BER of a
single-hop UWOC system with 1 Gbps data rate and different link ranges. R EFERENCES
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In this letter, we have analytically studied the end-to-end
performance of UWOC systems with serial relaying. Our
channel model is based upon the major degrading effects of the

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