Reaction-based Modulation for Molecular Communications

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Recently, the application of communication engineering principles to biomedical problems has spawned the emerging interdisciplinary research field of molecular communication (MC). MC is ubiquitous in natural biological systems and has a high potential for bio-medical applications such as targeted drug delivery, health monitoring, and micro-fluidic channel design. Besides medical applications, MC may be applied in industrial settings, e.g., for monitoring of chemical reactors and pipelines. While classical communication systems rely on transport by electro-magnetic or acoustic wave propagation, in MC, information is encoded into the type or concentration of signaling particles that are transported from a transmitter (TX) to a receiver (RX) by diffusion, flow or combinations thereof.

In this project, a new modulation scheme for MC will be investigated. The focus lies on gaining insight into the TX processes. Instead of releasing signaling molecules into the channel, the TX switches the state of already existing particles of type B to type A, i.e., the TX triggers a reaction BA. Therefore, it is crucial to have a statistical model for the distribution of particles of type B.
Two concepts should be considered during the project:

  • Switching a molecule from type B to type A is activated by light, which is applied externally. Hereby, the damping of light by the channel influences the reliability of the switching process. This type of transparent TX does not influence the movement of particles during the switching process.
  • Switching molecules from type B to type A is embedded into a larger reaction process at the TX, i.e., molecules bind to the TX, the state of the molecules is switched, and molecules are released into the channel. This concept of an absorbing TX has been used before for RX design.

Finally, when modeling the entire communication system, the channel and RX need to be specified. In this project, a duct with diffusion and flow will be used to model the environment and the RX will be modeled as transparent.


  • Literature review on reaction-based TX models
  • Chemical and subsequent mathematical description of the involved reactions
  • Derivation of an advection-diffusion-reaction network for the proposed transmitter design
  • Analytical modeling of the system whereby suitable simplifications can be applied
  • Evaluation based on comparisons to particle-based simulations