Representative Publications & Projects

    Representative Publications

    J1. M. Donohoe, S. Balasubramaniam, B. Jennings, J. M. Jornet, “Nanodevice Arrays for Peripheral Nerve Fascicle Activation Using Ultrasound Energy-harvesting”, to appear in IEEE Transactions on Nanotechnology, 2017.

     We propose the use of wireless, energy-harvesting, implanted nanodevice arrays with electrodes for selective stimulation of peripheral nerves in the human body. We calculate the input ultrasound energy and harvested power for single fixed-size nanowire-based nanodevices at different tissue depths and compare these with the current and voltage levels required for peripheral neural stimulation. We model the dimensioning of arrays of nanodevices, embedded in biocompatible tissue patches, to meet these neural stimulation requirements. Selectivity of activation of particular nerve bundles requires that the output voltage and current of the array can be varied to increase or decrease penetration into the neural tissue. This variation can be achieved by changing the energised area of the array and/or by decreasing the incident ultrasound power. However, the array must be implanted horizontally relative to the incident ultrasound as any tilting of the nanodevices will reduce the harvested energy. The proposed approach provides a long-term implant solution for nerve stimulation that allows the patient greater freedom of movement than with embedded tethered electrodes.

    J2. B. D. Unluturk, S. Balasubramaniam, I. F Akyildiz, “The Impact of Social Behavior on the Attenuation and Delay of Bacterial Nanonetworks”, IEEE Transactions on Nanobioscience, vol. 15, no. 8, 2016.

    Molecular communication (MC) is a new paradigm for developing communication systems that exchanges information through the transmission and reception of molecules. One proposed model for MC is using bacteria to carry information encoded into DNA plasmids, and this is termed bacterial nanonetworks. However, a limiting factor in the models that have been studied so far is the environment considered only in ideal conditions with a single population. This is far from realistic in natural environments, where bacteria coexist in multiple populations of same and different species, resulting in a very complex social community. This complex community has social interactions that include cooperation, cheating, as well as competition. In this paper, the effects of these social interactions on the information delivery in bacterial nanonetworks are studied in terms of delay, attenuation and data rate. The numerical results show that the cooperative behavior of bacteria improves the performance of delay and attenuation leading to a higher data rate, and this performance can be degraded once their behavior switches towards cheating. The competitive social behavior shows that the performance can degrade delay as well as attenuation leading to slower data rates, as the population with the encoded DNA plasmids are prevented from reaching the receiver. The analysis of social interactions between the bacteria will pave the way for efficient design of bacterial nanonetworks enabling applications such as intrabody sensing, drug delivery, and environmental control against pollution and biological hazards.

    J3. S. A. Wirdatmadja, M. T. Barros, Y. Koucheryavy, J. M. Jornet, S. Balasubramaniam, “Wireless Optogenetic Nanonetworks for Brain Stimulation: Device Model and Charging Protocols”, IEEE Transactions on Nanobioscience, vol. 16, no. 8, 2017

    In recent years, numerous research efforts have been dedicated toward developing efficient implantable devices for brain stimulation. However, there are limitations and challenges with the current technologies. They include neuron population stimulation instead of single neuron level, the size, the biocompatibility, and the device lifetime reliability in the patient’s brain. We have recently proposed the concept of wireless optogenetic nanonetworking devices (WiOptND) that could address the problem of long term deployment, and at the same time target single neuron stimulation utilizing ultrasonic as amode for energy harvesting. In addition, a number of charging protocols are also proposed, in order to minimize the quantity of energy required for charging, while ensuring minimum number of neural spike misfirings. These protocols include the simple charge and fire, which requires the full knowledge of the raster plots of neuron firing patterns, and the predictive sliding detection window, and its variant Markov-chain based time-delay patterns,whichminimizes the need for full knowledge of neural spiking patterns as well as number of ultrasound charging frequencies. Simulation results exhibit a drop for the stimulation ratio of _ 25% and more stable trend in its efficiency ratio (standard deviation of _0.5%) for the Markov-chain based time-delay patterns protocol compared with the baseline change and fire. The results show the feasibility of utilizing WiOptND for long-term implants in the brain, and a new direction toward precise stimulation of neurons in the cortical microcolumn of the brain cortex.

    J4 A. Giaretta, S. Balasubramaniam, M. Conti, “Security Vulnerabilities and Countermeasures for Target Localization in Bio-NanoThings Communication Networks”, IEEE Transactions on Information Forensics and Security, vol. 11, no. 4, 2016.

    The emergence of molecular communication has provided an avenue for developing biological nanonetworks. Synthetic biology is a platform that enables reprogramming cells, which we refer to as Bio-NanoThings, that can be assembled to create nanonetworks. In this paper, we focus on specific Bio-NanoThings, i.e, bacteria, where engineering their ability to emit or sense molecules can result in functionalities, such as cooperative target localization. Although this opens opportunities, e.g., for novel healthcare applications of the future, this can also lead to new problems, such as a new form of bioterrorism. In this paper, we investigate the disruptions that malicious Bio-NanoThings (M-BNTs) can create for molecular nanonetworks. In particular, we introduce two types of attacks: blackhole and sentry attacks. In blackhole attack M-BNTs emit attractant chemicals to draw-in the legitimate Bio-NanoThings (L-BNTs) from searching for their target, while in the sentry attack, the M-BNTs emit repellents to disperse the L-BNTs from reaching their target. We also present a countermeasure that L-BNTs can take to be resilient to the attacks, where we consider two forms of decision processes that includes Bayes' rule as well as a simple threshold approach. We run a thorough set of simulations to assess the effectiveness of the proposed attacks as well as the proposed countermeasure. Our results show that the attacks can significantly hinder the regular behavior of Bio-NanoThings, while the countermeasures are effective for protecting against such attacks.

    J5. M. Barros, S. Balasubramaniam, B. Jennings, “Comparative End-to-end Analysis of Ca2+ Signaling-based Molecular Communication in Biological Tissues”, IEEE Transactions on Communications, vol. 63, no. 12, 2015.

    Calcium (Ca2+)-signaling-based molecular communication is a short-range communication process that diffuses and propagates ions between the cells of a tissue. The communication process is initiated via stimulation and amplification of the production of Ca2+ ions within a cell; these ions then diffuse through a physical connection between cells called a gap junction. Ca2+ signaling can be found in different classes of cell. In excitable cells, initiation of the Ca2+-signaling process is accompanied by an electrical component; for nonexcitable cell types, the electrical component is absent; while hybrid cells exhibit both behaviors. This paper provides a comparison and analysis of the communication behavior in tissues comprised three specific cell types that utilize Ca2+ signaling: epithelium cells (nonexcitable), smooth muscle cells (excitable), and astrocytes (hybrid). The analysis focuses on spatiotemporal Ca2+ concentration dynamics and how they are influenced by the intracellular signaling process, the molecular diffusion delay, the gain and capacity of the communication channel, as well as intracellular signaling interference. This analysis of the communication behavior in the context of tissues provides insights useful for, inter alia, the design of nanomachines that are situated within tissues and that use analysis of the communication channel to infer tissue health.

    J6. I. F Akyildiz, M. Pierobon, S. Balasubramaniam, Y. Koucheryavy, “Internet of Bio-Nano Things”, IEEE Communications Magazine, vol. 53, no. 3, March 2015.

    The Internet of Things (IoT) has become an important research topic in the last decade, where things refer to interconnected machines and objects with embedded computing capabilities employed to extend the Internet to many application domains. While research and development continue for general IoT devices, there are many application domains where very tiny, concealable, and non-intrusive Things are needed. The properties of recently studied nanomaterials, such as graphene, have inspired the concept of Internet of NanoThings (IoNT), based on the interconnection of nanoscale devices. Despite being an enabler for many applications, the artificial nature of IoNT devices can be detrimental where the deployment of NanoThings could result in unwanted effects on health or pollution. The novel paradigm of the Internet of Bio-Nano Things (IoBNT) is introduced in this paper by stemming from synthetic biology and nanotechnology tools that allow the engineering of biological embedded computing devices. Based on biological cells, and their functionalities in the biochemical domain, Bio-NanoThings promise to enable applications such as intra-body sensing and actuation networks, and environmental control of toxic agents and pollution. The IoBNT stands as a paradigm-shifting concept for communication and network engineering, where novel challenges are faced to develop efficient and safe techniques for the exchange of information, interaction, and networking within the biochemical domain, while enabling an interface to the electrical domain of the Internet.

    Representative Projects

    P1. Theoretical and Experimental Development of Protocols for Molecular Communications. Academy of Finland Research Fellow. Sept. 2014-Aug. 2019, € 835. 000. Principal Investigator: S. Balasubramaniam

    P2. Science Foundation Ireland Future Research Centre for Future Networks and Communications. Jan. 2015-Sept. 2021. € 150.000. Funded Investigator: S. Balasubramaniam

    P3. Nano Communication in Microfluidic Devices. Tampere University of Technology, Strategic Application. Jan. 2014-Dec. 2014. € 100.000. Principal Investigator: S. Balasubramaniam

    P4. A Biologically Inspired Framework supporting Network Management for the Future Internet. Science Foundation Ireland. Oct. 2009- Sept. 2013. € €362.291. Principal Investigator: S. Balasubramaniam

    P5. Application of Control Theory in Molecular Communications for the Treatment of Alzheimer's Disease. Government of Ireland Postdoctoral fellowship, Irish Research Council. Oct 2016 - Oct 2018. €91.790. Principal Investigator: M. T. Barros

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