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Synthetic Molecular Communications

There are various environments where conventional wireless communications using electromagnetic (EM) waves is not feasible or detrimental. For example, at the macro-scale, EM waves suffer from high propagation path loss in pipe networks and tunnels. Moreover, inside the human body (micro/nano-scale) the EM radiation could result in unwanted effects on health. Inspired by nature (e.g., communications between cells), the information exchange using chemical signals has been proposed as a promising solution for the aforementioned environments, which is referred to as molecular communications (MC). Due to its ultra-high efficiency and bio-compatibility it is especially suited for communications at nano-scale, such as inside the human body. In MC, the information is encoded using the concentration, release time, and type of molecules and the propagation from transmitter to receiver can be either passive (only diffusion of molecules) or active (diffusion-advection, molecular motors).

Synthetic Molecular Communications

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Werner Haselmayr

Envisioned Applications

  • Smart Infrastructure Monitoring: In this case, sensors and/or robots could collaboratively collect information about critical environments (e.g., pipe networks) using MC. The collected information is then sent to an external infrastructure provider through the Internet using conventional wireless communications. The enables the provider to detect potential damages (e.g., corrosion in pipes) at a very early stage and to remotely control the robots to carry out such repairs, such that complicated and costly roadworks could be avoided.
  • Internet of Bio-NanoThings (IoBNT): The novel paradigm of IoBNT is an extension of the idea of Internet of Things (IoT), where intelligent/smart machines and objects are integrated on the Internet. In IoBNT, the nanothings are biological cells that are created using tools from synthetic biology and referred to as bio-nanothings (bio-nanomachines). Inspired by the natural exchange of information between cells, the communication between the bio-nanomachines is accomplished through MC. The concept of IoBNT enables many future applications, such as health monitoring. In this case, bio-nanomachines are scattered inside the body and cooperatively collect health-related information using MC. This information is then sent to an external healthcare provider for monitoring purposes. Moreover, the bio-nanomachines are also able to receive control signals (e.g., to release drugs) from the same provider.
  • Drug Delivery: Bio-nanomachines together with MC, enables cooperative drug delivery. This methodology improves the accuracy of drug administration, such that potential side effects are reduced and the therapeutic effect is maximized. In particular, it may improves the targeting accuracy and expand the ability of diagnosis and therapy.

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