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A space-time code is proposed that exhibits the highest coding gain among competing full-rate full transmit diversity space-time codes for the two transmit and receive antenna coherent quasi-static fading channel. The proposed code is derived from a layered architecture with real rotation of quadrature amplitude modulation (QAM) information symbols in two dimensions. The existing codes of similar architecture concentrate on application of complex full modulation diversity rotations or asymmetric real rotations. An analytic evaluation illustrates the significant improvement in coding gain achieved with the proposed code. Moreover, the coding gain of the proposed code is independent of its rate. This implies that the proposed code achieves the optimal diversity-multiplexing tradeoff curve for the two transmit antenna system. A stacked extension of the proposed code offers a reduced complexity capacity optimal alternative to the full diversity codes for larger number of transmit antennas. Performance enhancement in several scenarios is verified through simulations.