In this paper, spatial pulse position modulation (SPPM) is used as a case study to investigate the performance of the optical spatial modulation (SM) technique in outdoor atmospheric turbulence (AT). A closed-form expression for the upper bound on the asymptotic symbol error rate (SER) of SPPM in AT is derived and validated by closely-matching simulation results. The error performance is evaluated in weak to strong AT conditions. As the AT strength increases from the weak to strong, the channel fading coefficients become more dispersed and differentiable. Thus, a better error performance is observed under moderate-to-strong AT compared to weak AT. The performance in weak AT can be improved by applying unequal power allocation to make FSO links more distinguishable at the receiver. Receive diversity is considered to mitigate irradiance fluctuation and improve the robustness of the system to turbulence-induced channel fading. The diversity order is computed as half of the number of detectors. Performance comparisons, in terms of energy and spectral efficiencies, are drawn between the SPPM scheme and conventional MIMO schemes such as repetition coding and spatial multiplexing.
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