On the Neural Communication for Data Transmission in Nano-Networks
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Nano-networks are engineered systems for performing communication at the nano-scale. They are achieved through physical mechanisms suitable at this scale, including electromagnetism and electrochemical transport. From the communication and information engineering perspective, a challenging issue in nanotechnology involves interfacing between nano-scale components, and between nano-scale and macro-scale networks. A potential cutting-edge strategy is to use molecular communication and fine-tune the natural systems like muscular, cardiovascular, endocrine and nervous systems that have been engineered by evolution to transmit information. For intra-body communication, molecular communication has advantages over alternative electromagnetic nano communications in propagation gain and energy consumption, which motivates understanding and engineering intra-body molecular communication systems to send, transport, and receive artificial information. Among others, the neural nano-network which effectively communicates and rules other intra-body nano-networks is aimed to be understood to engineer solutions for useful problems in communications technology and medicine. The focus of the thesis is to develop and analyze a theoretical framework for the neural communication in engineered neural-like nano-networks. First, a solid mathematical framework linked with relevant molecular segments in the electrochemical and molecular communication pathways including propagation modeling is developed. The neural communication is inspected through the concepts of electrochemical- and molecular communication, which are referred to as the intra- and inter-neuronal communication, respectively. In the analysis, the chemical and ionic processes are represented with signals, whereas the biological mechanisms are modeled as input-output systems. Second, the information transfer in neural communication is inspected by introducing analogies between the neural communication system and the optical communications system to apply results from optical Poisson channels in deriving theoretical upper bounds on the information capacity of neural synapses. The efficacy of information transfer is analyzed under different synaptic set-ups with progressive complexity, and is shown to depend on the peak rate of the communicated spiking sequence and neurotransmitter (spontaneous) release, neurotransmitter propagation, and neurotransmitter binding. The presented research contribution promises in understanding the performance of the neural communication paradigm as a candidate for future nano-networks, and having an impact to the emerging area of molecular communication, as well as the fields of biotechnology and nanotechnology. Creating man-made neural-like communications systems can indubitably lead to new solutions in information and data transfer in nano-networks or, alternatively, to novel therapeutic methods for the neurodegenerative diseases.
This thesis stems from the project “Norwegian, Bosnian, and Serbian cooperation platform for university and industry ICT R&D – NORBAS”