In the previous blog we talked about the different category of Optical Communication which uses LED lights for the data transmission, known as “Light Fidelity”. In this blog we are going to discuss another upcoming technology in the communication field called as Molecular Communication.
Till date the methods and ways of communication makes use of Electromagnetic and acoustic waves, copper wires, optical Fibers, and other components. There is however, one more way of communication that many of us don’t know about. The communication that happens in a biological system. All the biological systems are networks of intercommunicating elements at all levels molecules, cells, tissues, organisms, populations, micro-biomes, ecosystems, and so on.
The knowledge of this communication method of biological systems became the basis for the invention of this new communication technology called as Molecular Communication.
What is Molecular Communication?
Molecular Communication is a Nano network design strategy which work toward the actual design and control of Nano-scale communication systems. It is the mechanism for communication between the Nano machines over a short distance (tens of micrometers) which uses the presence or absence of a selected type of molecule to digitally encode messages.
The molecular communication would be helpful in communication inside networks of tunnel, pipelines, or unpredictable underwater environments. Electromagnetic communication is challenging in the former mentioned environments because of constraints such as the ratio of the antenna size to the wavelength of the electromagnetic signal.
Molecular communication is done by transmitting the information through molecules to the specified destination. This technology has an upper hand in all the mechanisms at cellular and subcellular level that is already using the emission of molecules for communication.
Basic Principle of Working
The Nano network is the interconnection of Nano machines. Nano machines are biological or artificially created Nano-scale devices or components that are capable of performing only very simple tasks of computation, sensing, or actuation in its very close environment. These are like the building blocks cooperate to perform more complex tasks and share different local information. Nano machines could be divided in two categories:
- Biological Nano machines
- Artificial Nanomachines
The molecular communication consists of Sender Nano machines, receiver Nano machines, carrier molecules, information molecules, and the environment that these operate in. The senders and receivers are biologically and artificially created Bio-Nano machines which has the capability of emitting and capturing the information molecules. The information data is moved from sender to receiver by the carriers. Carriers in this system are molecular motors, hormones or neurotransmitters. Since the molecular communication works in the biological system the information to be carried is proteins, ions, or DNAs. The environment is the aqueous solution that is found within and between the cells.
The 5 phases in the working of the Molecular communication is as given below:
- Encoding – It is the phase in which the source or the sender Bio-Nano machine encodes the information into information molecules that is detected by the receiver Bio-Nano machine.
- Sending – It is the phase by which a sender bio-Nano machine emits these information molecules into the environment. It is done by unbinding the information molecules from the sender bio-Nano machine.
- Propagation – Propagation is common method which is present in all the communication technologies. Propagation is the phase in which the information moves from the source to destination. This is similar for Molecular Communication also where the information molecules move from the sender Bio-Nano machine through the medium to the receiver Bio-Nano machine.
- Receiving – As implied by the word, it is the phase in which the receiver Bio-Nano machine captures the information molecules propagating in the environment of the Bio-Nano machines.
- Decoding – Encoding and decoding are the most important phases in the communication methods. In molecular communication during decoding the receiver Bio-Nano machine captures the information molecules, decodes the received molecules into a chemical reaction.
This communication is completely a new concept and would potentially enable many new applications in the bio nanotechnology. Some of the possible Future uses of the Molecular Communication are:
- Information Technology – This communication technology can help to advance the current silicon-based electrical systems by integrating the Bio-Nano machines in them for communication. For example – in future the mobile could have these Bio-Nano machines for on-chip analysis of biochemical signals received form human body in the form of blood and sweat.
- Drug Delivery System – The most promising use of such a communication technique is being seen in the medical field. Molecular communication may provide drug carriers and also mechanisms to deliver drugs in a manner that is friendly to the biological systems. Bio-Nano machines senders could be implanted in the human body to emit drug or DNA.
- Micro-electrochemical Systems – This domain aims at developing small scale systems like Lab-on-a-chip. Lab-on-a-chip is the emerging technology which integrates the biochemical analysis and synthesis operations such as cell analysis and blood diagnosis on a small chip. It provides functionalities like manipulation of molecules on a single chip like transportation of molecules to specific locations, mixing two types of molecules with each other and separating a particular type of molecule from a mixture.
- Environment and Manufacturing – Though there is no tested system for it. But Scientists are planning to use this technology for monitoring of the environment for different purposes like Waste Control, Pollution Control, and Global Warming and so on. They are even experimenting on ways to find its use in the manufacturing industry for pattern and structure formation.
This technology is a completely new paradigm in the Communications field. Research is being done to know about its positive application in different spheres. Medical is sure field to be benefitted from it because it is biological and Nano both in nature. Since we all are aware that nanotechnology is an inseparable part of the future and molecular technology is about communication between Nano machines, I feel that it would soon take a pace in development and we would soon be able to see the systems using it.