Engineering molecular communication

What is life? You can view a living cell simply as a soup of chemical molecules, but a living cell can sense the environment, make decisions, repair itself, communicate with other cells and do many other amazing things. From a computing perspective, a cell can be thought of as a computation and communication device. Cells realize computation and communication by using networks of chemical reactions (which are also known as molecular circuits) and transport. Chemical reactions are inherently stochastic, so a research question in biology is to understand how cells use molecules and chemical reactions to compute and communicate. With the development of synthetic biology, there is now an opportunity to engineer novel molecular circuits and bio-nano devices, which are based on biological materials rather than silicon. These novel bio-nano devices can potentially revolutionize many application areas, especially medicine. With this background in mind, our research aims to develop a framework to understand, analyse and engineer molecular communication. In this seminar, we examine molecular communication from an information theory point of view. Inspired by temporal coding found in living cells, we formulate an optimal decoding problem with a pair of molecular circuit based transmitter and receiver. By using optimal Bayesian inference, we derive the optimal decoder in the form of a bank of analogue filters. An important insight from our solution is that molecular communication is event-based with information communicated through binding and unbinding events. We will also discuss the problems of molecular circuit design.

This talk is predominantly based on these two publications: (1) A Markovian approach to the optimal demodulation of diffusion-based molecular communication networks. IEEE Trans. on Communications, Oct 2015. (2)  Impact of receiver molecular circuits on the performance of reaction shift keying , ACM Nanocom Sept. 2015


Hamdan Awan is a Phd Student at the School of Computer Science and Engineering, UNSW working under the supervision of Associate Professor Chun Tung Chou from March 2014- till date . Prior to this Hamdan graduated from the University of Engineering and Technology Pakistan with a Master’s degree in Electrical and Electronics Engineering in Sept. 2013. His current research interests are in molecular and nano-scale communication. He is member of NanoCom Research Group at the Univeristy of New South Wales.

Date & time

2–3pm 8 February 2016


Room:A105 Seminar Room

External speakers

Hamdan Awan


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