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Molecular Communications for Internet of Nano-Things

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - Mo-IoNT (Molecular Communications for Internet of Nano-Things)

Reporting period: 2018-09-15 to 2020-09-14

Molecular signals are the foundation for biological system functionalities ranging across multiple spatial and temporal scales. Very few, if any, engineering systems use chemical information signals to communicate, command, and control processes. Here, we explore the potential of molecular communications in an Internet-of-Nano-Things framework. In particular, we want to understand the coupling relationship between diffusion-advection fluid dynamics, information theory, and networking capability. This is important for society because it will one day enable us to connect biological processes to the Internet for data collection and control. The overall objectives include experimentation, prototyping molecular communications, developing synchronization techniques, and disseminating research results across discipline silos.
The first part of the project will build a test environment that represents the kind of envisaged EM-denied environment the molecular communication system might have an advantage in. We will consider fluid and channel topology modelling aspects that interface communication signals with fluid dynamics. The test environment will be a large-scale water tank, capable of creating different advection-diffusion and fluid dynamic regimes. The experiments are fitted with particle image velocimetry (PIV) systems to track the velocity profile of messenger molecules highlighted through nano-fluorescent tracers. The simulations will be performed using COMSOL Multiphysics to simulate both advective flow and discrete diffusion dominated regimes. To ensure the test environment is representative of real application scenarios, the approach considers 2 things: a) try to observe common fluid dynamic similarities in a realistic setting by preserving the dynamic similarities, whereby dynamic similarity in scaled models can be accomplished through dimensionless constants, such as the Reynolds (inertial vs. viscous forces) and Péclet numbers (diffusion vs. advection processes); b) test a large variation of dimensionless constants to ensure sufficient coverage of fluid dynamic possibilities. In order to examine the effect of different obstacles, we will consider a variety of maze, knife-edge, aperture channels, and porous media. The results will be obtained experimentally and via numerical particle simulations. Training and knowledge transfer will be conducted.
The project will develop lasting and self-sustained research collaborations by: (1) building on established collaborations between the ER and the host and increasing capacity for knowledge sharing, research funding applications, innovation and knowledge transfer, and (2) building new partnerships with leading research projects. The project will reinforce existing collaborations between UoW (host) and Tongji University (home of ER fellow) and aim to enhance cooperation and transfer of knowledge after the end of the fellowship. The fellowship is a first step in bringing together the partners’ contacting networks, stimulating and generating new collaboration and career development opportunities, strengthening of international and intersectorial collaborative networks. The long-lasting links set up through the fellowship are in line with the strategy of generating high global impact of their research and strengthening their international profiles. Fostering New Partnerships: The fellow will also seek to collaborate with EU projects such as MINERVA and FET CIRCLE and internationally leading projects such as NSF MoNaCo and DARPA InVivo Nanoplatforms via short term visits and workshop engagement.