Nanotechnologies are providing a new set of tools to the engineering community to design and manufacture devices in a scale ranging from one to a few hundred nanometers. At this scale, a nanomachine is defined as the most basic functional unit, which is able to perform only very simple tasks, such as computing, data storing, sensing and actuation. Nanonetworks, i.e., the interconnection of nanomachines in networks, will expand the capabilities of single nano-devices by providing them a way to cooperate and share information. Traditional communication technologies based on electromagnetic waves need to undergo a profound rethinking in order to meet the requirements of these networks. Moreover, there are specific applications of nanonetworks in which the utilization of electromagnetic waves is not feasible, such as in intra-body applications. Alternatively, molecular communication, i.e., the use of molecules to encode and transmit information among nanomachines, represents a radically new communication paradigm that demands novel solutions, including the identification of existing molecular communication mechanisms, the establishment of the foundations of molecular information theory, or the development of architectures and networking protocols for nanomachines. This project will address the above challenges to realize this new communication paradigm.

Intellectual Merit: This project seeks to develop a research area spanning across diverse fields, which include communication and information theory, computer science and biology. Specifically, this project will make contributions along four broad directions. First, the researchers will develop Theoretical Foundations of Molecular Nanonetworks, which include the definition and modeling of the attenuation, delay and noises affecting the emission, propagation, and reception processes in molecular communication. In addition, they will analyze the information capacity of nanonetworks first for a network with only two nodes and then for a network with N nodes, for which the effect of interference and collaborative communication will be taken into account. Second, the researchers will design Protocols for Molecular Nanonetworks based on the development of novel principles, primitives and services. Third, the researchers will implement a Simulation Tool for Molecular Nanonetworks in order to validate the information theoretical results as well as to evaluate the performance of the proposed protocols, by accounting for the interactions in the network molecule by molecule. Finally, the researchers will develop an Experimental Validation Platform for Molecular Nanonetworks by using a concrete testbed based on bacteria communication to verify the correctness of the information theoretical results and the protocols developed within the project.

Broader Impact: The project will pave the way for research in nanoscale communication. The outcomes of this work is expected to have a significant impact on research in nanotechnology, biology and information and communication technologies, since this project will represent the entrance of these three main communities to this converging field and will follow a realistic and integrated approach. The range of potential applications of nanonetworks is astonishingly wide, covering from intra-body networks for health monitoring, cancer detection or drug delivery, amongst others, to chemical attack prevention systems. The principal investigators teach a variety of classes in Georgia Tech spanning information theory, network algorithms, communication protocols and biology. They will immediately incorporate output from the proposed research into their classes. The team will develop an open source simulation tool to test the solutions developed and the tool will be made available for public use. This tool will represent the first simulation tool for molecular nanonetworks and will also be used in class projects as an educational tool to provide insights and deep understanding of nanosensor/actuator networks. Scientific results will be disseminated at international conferences, journals and magazines in the field.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Computer and Network Systems (CNS)
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Darleen L. Fisher
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Georgia Tech Research Corporation
United States
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