A Networking Paradigm Inspired by Cell Communication Mechanisms

A Networking Paradigm Inspired by Cell Communication Mechanisms

Tadashi Nakano (Osaka University, Japan)
Copyright: © 2014 |Pages: 10
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-5125-8.ch002
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This chapter provides a brief review of molecular communication, a networking paradigm inspired by cell communication mechanisms. In molecular communication, information is encoded to and decoded from molecules, rather than electrons or electromagnetic waves. Molecular communication provides bio-compatible and energy-efficient solutions with massive parallelization at the nano-to-micro scale; it is expected to play a key role in a multitude of domains including health, the environment, and ICT (Information Communication Technology). Models and methods of molecular communication are also reviewed, and research challenges that need to be addressed for further advancement of the molecular communication paradigm are discussed.
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Molecular communication is an emerging technology that exploits biological materials or living matter to enable communication among biological nanomachines (or nanomachines in short) (Hiyama, 2005). Nanomachines are small-scale devices that exist in nature or are artificially synthesized from biological materials. Some examples of nanomachines found in nature are biological cells, molecular motors that produce mechanical work (e.g. myosin), and biochemical molecules, complexes, and circuits that are capable of processing chemical signals. Examples of artificially synthesized nanomachines include synthetic molecules, genetically engineered cells, artificial cells, and bio-silicon hybrid devices that are programmed to produce intended biochemical reactions.

In molecular communication, information is encoded to and decoded from molecules, rather than electrons or electromagnetic waves. Since nanomachines are made of biological materials and not amenable to traditional communication means (i.e., electrons or electromagnetic waves), molecular communication provides mechanisms for nanomachines to communicate by propagating molecules that represent information. Molecular communication allows networking of nanomachines and potentially enables new applications in various domains including health (e.g., nanomedicine and tissue engineering), the environment (e.g., monitoring and quality control), ICT (Information Communication Technology)(e.g., implantable biological sensors and actuator networks), and military situations (e.g., biochemical sensing).

Molecular communication exhibits unique features that are not commonly found in telecommunication technology as it currently stands. The distinctive features of molecular communication compared to current telecommunication technology are highlighted in Table 1.

Table 1.
Molecular communication and telecommunication
CommunicationTelecommunicationMolecular Communication
Communication componentsElectronic devicesBio-nanomachines
Signal typesOptical/electrical signalsChemical signals
Communication speedSpeed of light (3 x 108m/s)Extremely slow
Communication rangem ~ kmnm ~ μm
Communication mediaAir or cablesAqueous

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