Since Shannon derived the seminal formula for the capacity of the additive linear white Gaussian noise channel, it has commonly been interpreted as the ultimate limit of error-free information transmission rate. However, the capacity above the corresponding linear channel limit can be achieved when noise is suppressed using nonlinear elements; that is, the regenerative function not available in linear systems. Regeneration is a fundamental concept that extends from biology to optical communications. All-optical regeneration of coherent signal has attracted particular attention. Surprisingly, the quantitative impact of regeneration on the Shannon capacity has remained unstudied. Here we propose a new method of designing regenerative transmission systems with capacity that is higher than the corresponding linear channel, and illustrate it by proposing application of the Fourier transform for efficient regeneration of multilevel multidimensional signals. The regenerative Shannon limit -the upper bound of regeneration efficiency -is derived.
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Funding: UK EPSRC Programme [UNLOC EP/J017582/1].
Supplementary Information: http://www.nature.com/naturecommunications