Capacity limits of diffusion-based molecular timing channels with finite particle lifetime

Nariman Farsad, Yonathan Murin, Andrew W. Eckford, Andrea Goldsmith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


This paper introduces capacity limits for molecular timing (MT) channels, where information is modulated in the release timing of small information particles with finite lifetime, and decoded from the time of arrivals at the receiver. It is shown that the random time of arrival can be represented as an additive noise channel, and for the diffusion-based MT (DBMT) channel this noise is distributed according to the Lévy distribution. Lower and upper bounds on the capacity of the DBMT channel are derived for the case where the delay associated with the propagation of the information particles in the channel is finite, namely, when the information particles dissipate after a finite time interval. For the case where a single particle is released per channel use, these bounds are shown to be tight. When the transmitter simultaneously releases a large number of particles, the detector at the receiver may not be able to precisely detect the arrival time of all the particles. Therefore, two alternative models are considered: 1) detection based on the particle that arrives first or 2) detection based on the average arrival times. Lower and upper bounds on the capacities of these two models are derived, and the lower bound also provides a lower bound for the capacity of the DBMT channel. It is shown that by controlling the lifetime of the information particles, the capacity can increase polylogarithmically with the number of released particles. As each particle takes a random independent path, this diversity of paths is analogous to receiver diversity and can be used to considerably increase the achievable data rates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number8653985
Pages (from-to)88-106
Number of pages19
JournalIEEE Transactions on Molecular, Biological, and Multi-Scale Communications
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2018
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Modeling and Simulation


  • Lévy distribution
  • Molecular communication
  • capacity bounds
  • channel capacity
  • channel models
  • timing channels


Dive into the research topics of 'Capacity limits of diffusion-based molecular timing channels with finite particle lifetime'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this