Capacity of a diffusion-based molecular communication system with channel memory and molecular noise

Massimiliano Pierobon, Ian F. Akyildiz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

222 Scopus citations


Molecular Communication (MC) is a communication paradigm based on the exchange of molecules. The implicit biocompatibility and nanoscale feasibility of MC make it a promising communication technology for nanonetworks. This paper provides a closed-form expression for the information capacity of an MC system based on the free diffusion of molecules, which is of primary importance to understand the performance of the MC paradigm. Unlike previous contributions, the provided capacity expression is independent from any coding scheme and takes into account the two main effects of the diffusion channel: the memory and the molecular noise. For this, the diffusion is decomposed into two processes, namely, the Fick's diffusion and the particle location displacement, which are analyzed as a cascade of two separate systems. The Fick's diffusion captures solely the channel memory, while the particle location displacement isolates the molecular noise. The MC capacity expression is obtained by combining the two systems as function of the diffusion coefficient, the temperature, the transmitter-receiver distance, the bandwidth of the transmitted signal, and the average transmitted power. Numerical results show that a few kilobits per second can be reached within a distance range of tenth of micrometer and for an average transmitted power around 1 pW.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number6305481
Pages (from-to)942-954
Number of pages13
JournalIEEE Transactions on Information Theory
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Channel memory
  • information capacity
  • molecular communication (MC)
  • molecular noise
  • molecule diffusion
  • nanonetworks

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Information Systems
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Library and Information Sciences


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