Molecular and Nano Communications

The Molecular Communications research theme is investigating communication for nano scale devices, in particular in biological environment. Nanotechnology has tremendous potential, especially in the field of medicine. Research to date has largely focused on developments of materials to improve the capabilities of nano devices. However, integrating communication capabilities to these devices will further improve the potential of nano devices. The research conducted in this theme is investigating communication between nano devices using molecular communications, where information is encoded into bio-molecules that are diffused into the environment, and decoded at the receiving end.

Enzyme based protocols

Enzyme-based protocols

The enzyme based protocols are designed for simple sensors with minimal functionalities, and can transmit to sinks at short effective communication radius. The applications for such sensors may include detection of cancer, transmitting a message at short range with rapid response time to a sink, which can in turn transmit this information to an external device. Our solution looks at integrating an enzyme logic gate into the cytosol of the cells, where the detection of any abnormality can trigger the logic gate, which in turn can trigger the calcium signals. By encoding varying frequency or amplitude of the calcium signals, we can inherently encode addressing into the signals.

DNA based protocols

DNA-based protocols

The DNA based protocol solution support nano sensors that can encode information into DNA (or mRNA) particles and transmit these information molecules to distant nodes. Using DNA computing lends a number of advantages for molecular communication. Firstly, DNA has the potential of coding rich and large quantity of information. Secondly, the DNAs are capable of controlling a number of other elements and operations within the cells. Based on these two properties, our protocol for molecular communications can align much closer to protocols found in conventional devices. One approach that has been investigated to transport DNA based information is viruses.

Neuronal Networks

Fluorescent intensities of intracellular Ca2+ in primary cortical neurons cultured on customised microelectrode arrays (MEAs) stained with Fluo-4 AM

Neurons, in their natural form, create highly complex network which are responsible for processing information in the brain. One area of research conducted in the Bio-networking group is investigating the use of Neurons for molecular communication. The research is conducted in collaboration with the Centre for Research on Adaptive Nanostructures and Nanodevices (CRANN), Trinity College. Preliminary wetlab experiments have shown how neurons can be cultured, and artificially induced for communication. The research is also investigating approaches to incorporate scheduling in devices that transmit over neuron networks, in order to minimize collisions.


Dr. Brendan Jennings, Dr. Dmitri BotvichMichael BarrosArmita Afsharinejad, Chris Foley, Frank Walsh


Dr. Sasi Balasubramaniam



Recent Publications

Baris Atakan, Sasitharan Balasubramaniam, and Ozgur B. Akan. Body area nanonetworks with molecular communications in nanomedicine. IEEE Communications Magazine, 50(1):28 – 34, January 2012.

Laura Gallucio, Ozgur B. Akan, Sasitharan Balasubramaniam, and Raghupathy Sivakumar. Wireless Communications at Nanoscale [Guest Editorial]. IEEE Wireless Communications, 19(5):10–11, 2012.

Stepan Ivanov, Sasitharan Balasubramaniam, and Dmitri Botvich. Cooperative Wireless Sensor Environments Supporting Body Area Networks. IEEE Transactions on Consumer Electronics, 58(2):284–292, May 2012.

Stepan Ivanov, Dmitri Botvich, and Sasitharan Balasubramaniam. Enzyme-Based Circuit Design for Nano-Scale Computing. Nano Communication Networks, 3(3):168–174, 2012.

Stepan Ivanov, Christopher Foley, Sasitharan Balasubramaniam, and Dmitri Botvich. Virtual Groups for Patient WBAN Monitoring in Medical Environments. IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering, 59(11 (Part 2)):3238 – 3246, October 2012.

Pietro LiO and Sasitharan Balasubramaniam. Opportunistic Routing through Conjugation in Bacteria Communication Nanonetwork. Nano Communication Networks, 3(1):36–45, March 2012.

Junichi Suzuki, Sasitharan Balasubramaniam, and Adriele Prina-Mello. Multiobjective TDMA Optimization for Neuron-based Molecular Communication. In Proc. 7th International ICST Conference on Body Area Networks (BodyNets 2012), Oslo, Norway, 2012.

Frank Walsh and Sasitharan Balasubramaniam. Reliability of Multi-path Virus Nanonetworks. In Proc. 3rd IEEE International Workshop on Molecular and Nanoscale Communications (Monacom 2013), to appear, 2013.