(t)e
j2f
C
t
, (1)
where y(t) denotes the complex base band equiva
lent of the frequency band of interest, f
C
denotes
its carrier frequency and ()
denotes (complex)
conjugation. The principle of directconversion is
to use a local oscillator (LO) with the frequency
f
LO
= f
C
and to apply complex (I/Q) mixing. For
reference, we will rst consider the case of no I/Q
imbalance. In this case, the downconversion yields
the frequency band of interest
y(t) = LP{r(t)x
LO
(t)}, (2)
where x
LO
(t) = e
j2f
LO
t
denotes the time function
of the (perfectly balanced) complex LO and LP{}
denotes low pass ltering. If the directconversion
architecture is used for the reception of an OFDM
signal, y(t) equals the received OFDM base band
signal. This signal is further A/Dconverted and
its samples y(k) are used to compute the symbols
on the subcarriers by applying the Discrete Fourier
Transform (DFT)
Y
m
(n) =
1
L
DFT
L
DFT
1
l=0
y(l)e
j2lm/L
DFT
, (3)
were L
DFT
denotes the number of subcarriers.
Y
m
(n) denotes the demodulated subcarrier symbol
at the m
th
sumcarrier of the n
th
OFDM symbol. For
a better understanding of the I/Q imbalance effects,
the analyzed interval of subcarrier indices is set to
m [L
DFT
/2; L
DFT
/2 1], where m=0 denotes
the DC subcarrier.
Unfortunately, a perfect analog I/Q mixing is not
achievable in practice. Unavoidable tolerances in the
manufacturing process lead to deviations from the
desired 90
(t):
z(t) = LP{r(t) x
LO
(t)} = K
1
y(t) + K
2
y
(t). (6)
This superposition translates to a mutual interfer
ence of symmetric OFDM symbols (see Fig. 1). With
(3) and (6), the received OFDM symbols in the case
of I/Q imbalance become:
Z
m
(n) = K
1
Y
m
(n) + K
2
Y
m
(n). (7)
Equivalently, we can write for the mirror subcarrier
Z
m
(n) = K
1
Y
m
(n) + K
2
Y
m
(n). (8)
Merging (7) and the conjugate of (8) leads to a
convenient matrix description of the I/Q imbalance
effects:
_
Z
m
(n)
Z
m
(n)
_
= K
_
Y
m
(n)
Y
m
(n)
_
, K =
_
K
1
K
2
K
2
K
1
_
.
(9)
Since the matrix K is always nonsingular for
realistic imbalance parameters, the desired OFDM
K
1
Y
m
(n),
Y
m
(n)
D
F
T
z(t)
ADC
Collection
of statistics
K
1
K
2
Z
m
(n), Z
m
(n)
Fig. 2. Structure of the proposed I/Q imbalance compensation
algorithm
symbols Y
m
(n) and Y
m
(n) can be perfectly re
constructed based on the interfered symbols Z
m
(n)
and Z
m
(n) using the inverse K
1
. It should be
stressed, that the reconstructed symbols Y
m
(n) and
Y
m
are not necessarily identical to the transmitted
OFDM symbols. Instead, they might be corrupted
by the channel or other RF impairments. The com
pensation of such distortions is beyond the scope of
this paper. We focus on a cancellation of the I/Q
imbalance effects, i.e. the goal is to provide OFDM
symbols equivalent to those of a perfectly balanced
directconversion.
The key for the compensation is to gain knowl
edge about the unknown mixing matrix K. An anal
ysis of the mixing equation (9) shows its structural
similarity to the mixing equation in LowIF receivers
[5]. In fact, considering the effects of I/Q imbalance,
the mutual interference between desired signal and
image signal in LowIF receivers corresponds to the
mutual interference between symmetric subcarriers
in OFDM directconversion receivers. It has been
shown in [5], that a completely blind estimation
of the unknown mixing matrix is possible for the
LowIF case. In this paper we will show, that the
parameter estimation approach of [5] can be adapted
to OFDM directconversion receivers.
III. I/Q IMBALANCE COMPENSATION
The proposed I/Q imbalance compensation ap
proach consists of two steps: The blind determina
tion of the product K
1
K
2
, followed by the derivation
of the inverse K
1
. For the purpose of a clear pre
sentation we will drop the sample time index (n) in
this section. However, it should be kept in mind that
the investigated OFDM symbols are generally time
variant. In order to determine K
1
K
2
, two statistics
of the imbalanced symbols Z
m
and Z
m
will be
evaluated, namely the crosscorrelation E{Z
m
Z
m
}
and the power of the sum E
_
Z
m
+ Z
m

2
_
, where
E{} denotes expectation.
The only assumption we introduce is, that
E{Y
m
Y
m
} = 0 holds at the examined subcarrier
index m, i.e. Y
m
and Y
m
are uncorrelated and
have zero mean
1
. This assumption is realistic at
least for pairs of datasubcarriers, if a proper source
and channel coding is applied. Analyzing the cross
correlation term yields
E{Z
m
Z
m
}
= K
1
K
2
E{Y
m
Y
m
} + K
1
K
2
E
_
Y
m
Y
m
_
+ K
1
2
E{Y
m
Y
m
} + K
2
2
E
_
Y
m
Y
m
_
= K
1
K
2
(P
m
+ P
m
) , (10)
where P
m
= E{Y
m
Y
m
} and P
m
= E
_
Y
m
Y
m
_
denote the power of the subcarriers. Furthermore, we
can write
Z
m
+ Z
m
= (K
1
+ K
2
) Y
m
+ (K
2
+ K
1
) Y
m
= Y
m
+ Y
m
, (11)
which holds, since denition (4) yields
K
1
+ K
2
= K
2
+ K
1
= 1. (12)
Now, the second expectation term can be written as
E
_
Z
m
+ Z
m

2
_
= E
_
Y
m
+ Y
m

2
_
= E{Y
m
Y
m
} + E
_
Y
m
Y
m
_
+ E{Y
m
Y
m
} + E
_
Y
m
Y
m
_
= P
m
+ P
m
. (13)
Merging (10) and (13) results in the backbone equa
tion of the proposed imbalance parameter estimation
scheme:
E{Z
m
Z
m
}
E
_
Z
m
+ Z
m

2
_ = K
1
K
2
(14)
In order to derive the compensation matrix K
1
, the
product has to be split into its composing factors.
Although K
1
and K
2
cannot be separated directly,
the parameters g and can be extracted. Denition
(4) yields K
1
K
2
=
1
4
_
1 g
2
_
j
1
2
g sin, which
can be converted into:
g =
_
1 4 Re {K
1
K
2
}
= arcsin
_
2
g
Im{K
1
K
2
}
_
.
(15)
Re {} and Im{} denote the real part and the
imaginary part, respectively. The values K
1
and K
2
are now determinable using denition (4). Hence, at
least one pair of uncorrelated subcarriers allows for a
completely blind determination of the unknown I/Q
1
A residual crosscorrelation E{Y
m
Y
m
} = 0 limits the
achievable accuracy of the parameter estimation. A comprehen
sive theoretical analysis of how the parameter estimation in a
LowIF receiver is affected by a residual crosscorrelation can
be found in [6].
imbalance parameters. The structure of the resulting
I/Q imbalance parameter estimation and compensa
tion algorithm is depicted in Figure 2.
IV. REALIZATION ASPECTS
In a practical receiver the expectation terms of
(14) have to be replaced by sample based approxi
mations. This can be done by an averaging operation
over multiple pairs of uncorrelated subcarriers. Fur
thermore, the I/Q imbalance parameters change very
slowly with time. Hence, an averaging over time
is also reasonable. The estimation can be formally
written as
K
1
K
2
=
mM
nN
Z
m
(n)Z
m
(n)
mM
nN
Z
m
(n) + Z
m
(n)
2
.
(16)
M denotes the chosen subset of M (positive) sub
carrier indices, N denotes the chosen subset of N
sample time indices. Obviously, the accuracy of the
estimation will be affected by the number of incor
porated sample pairs MN. An increased subcarrier
block size M raises the computational effort at
each time instant n, whereas an increased temporal
block size N raises the duration of the parameter
estimation. Hence, the proposed parameter estima
tion allows for a exible tradeoff between accuracy,
computational effort and measurement time.
The separation scheme of the product into the
estimates
K
1
and
K
2
is the same as sketched for the
exact values, leading to the estimated I/Q imbalance
compensation matrix
K
1
=
1

K
1

2

K
2

2
_
K
1
K
2
2
K
1
_
. (17)
Using this blindly gained compensation matrix, a
reconstruction of the unknown source signals is
possible:
_
Y
m
(n)
Y
m
(n)
_
=
K
1
_
Z
m
(n)
Z
m
(n)
_
=
K
1
K
_
Y
m
(n)
Y
m
(n)
_
.
(18)
The computational effort of the proposed I/Q imbal
ance compensation technique is very low. In order
to implement the parameter estimation (16), only
8M real additions and 6M real multiplications are
required at the OFDM symbol rate. The more costly
calculation of the compensation matrix
K
1
can be
done at a much lower rate, depending on how fast
the I/Q imbalance changes with time.
10 15 20 25 30
10
4
10
3
10
2
10
1
10
0
SNR [dB]
S
E
R
I/Q Imbalance (no compensation)
I/Q Imbalance (with compensation)
Reference: no I/Q Imbalance
N=10
N=100
N=1000
Fig. 3. Mean symbol error rate for an AWGN channel and I/Q
imbalance parameter estimation based on all datasubcarriers
(64QAM, g=1.05, =5
)
V. SIMULATION RESULTS
We will demonstrate the capabilities of the pro
posed I/Q imbalance compensation algorithm con
sidering the IEEE 802.11a WLAN standard [7],
which is a widely used OFDMbased wireless com
munications standard. The highest modulation order
(64QAM), which is also most sensitive to I/Q
imbalances, is used in the simulations.
For each simulation setting, we rst perform a pa
rameter estimation based on the proposed approach,
followed by a measurement of the resulting symbol
error rate (SER), if the estimated compensation
matrix
K
1
is used for correction. The estimation
is done based on all datasubcarriers, which results
in M=24 for the IEEE 802.11a signal [7]. Because
the parameter estimation is done based on the ac
tual quasirandom realization of the incorporated
symbols Z
m
(n), the accuracy of the estimation and
consequently the resulting SER will vary. Therefore,
instead of a single realization SER, it is more rea
sonable to plot the mean SER. The following results
are calculated based on 1000 independent trails of
the parameter estimation for each simulation setting.
We start our analysis with the simple case of an
AWGN channel. Figure 3 shows the performance
degradation due to the I/Q imbalance for g=1.05,
=5
)
10 20 30 40 50 60
10
4
10
3
10
2
10
1
10
0
SNR [dB]
S
E
R
I/Q Imbalance (no compensation)
I/Q Imbalance (with compensation)
Reference: no I/Q Imbalance
g=1.05, =5
g=1.02, =2
g=1.1, =10
Fig. 5. Mean symbol error rate for an ETSIA channel and
I/Q imbalance parameter estimation based on all datasubcarriers
(64QAM, N=1000)
The impact of I/Q imbalance is substantially more
critical for a frequency selective channel. In our
simulations we use the ETSIA channel model [8].
Figure 4 shows, that even for a high SNR the SER
never falls below a specic limit, which is prede
termined by the parameters of the I/Q imbalance
(here: 5.3 % SER for g=1.05, =5
). Such a lower
limit still exists if the proposed compensation is
applied. However, depending on the requirements of
the chosen communications standard, the error oor
can be arbitrarily decreased by a proper choice of
the block size N.
Furthermore, the actual I/Q imbalance parameters
of a practical receiver are hardly predictable. Instead,
they will vary with the manufacturing process. As a
consequence, the limiting SER error oor due to I/Q
imbalance will be arbitrary (Fig. 5). In contrast, for
a xed choice of M and N, the mean SER with
compensation is independent from the actual values
of the I/Q imbalance parameters. The error oor
due to I/Q imbalance is kept at an predetermined
arbitrary low level. Therefore, by using the proposed
digital compensation scheme, the demands to the
analog part of the receiver can be drastically reduced.
VI. CONCLUSION
A novel approach for a blind estimation and
compensation of I/Q imbalances in OFDM direct
conversion receivers has been proposed. Because
the parameter estimation does not depend on any
structures of the received signals (such as pilots), this
technique is applicable to a wide range of present
and future OFDM based communications standards.
The accuracy of the I/Q imbalance parameter estima
tion and consequently the performance of the com
pensation is arbitrarily scalable, allowing for a ex
ible tradeoff between performance, computational
effort and measurement time. In order to fulll the
requirements of a chosen communications standard,
the effects of the I/Q imbalance can be compensated
digitally, while scaling down the demands for the
analog part of the receiver.
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