Modeling convection-diffusion-reaction systems for microfluidic molecular communications with surface-based receivers in Internet of Bio-Nano Things.

25 May 2018

We consider a microfluidic molecular communication (MC) system, where the concentration-encoded molecular messages are transported via fluid flow-induced convection and diffusion, and detected by a surface-based MC receiver with ligand receptors placed at the bottom of the microfluidic channel. The overall system is a convection-diffusion-reaction system that can only be solved by numerical methods, e.g., finite element analysis (FEA). However, analytical models are key for the information and communication technology (ICT), as they enable an optimisation framework to develop advanced communication techniques, such as optimum detection methods and reliable transmission schemes. In this direction, we develop an analytical model to approximate the expected time course of bound receptor concentration, i.e., the received signal used to decode the transmitted messages. The model obviates the need for computationally expensive numerical methods by capturing the nonlinearities caused by laminar flow resulting in parabolic velocity profile, and finite number of ligand receptors leading to receiver saturation. The model also captures the effects of reactive surface depletion layer resulting from the mass transport limitations and moving reaction boundary originated from the passage of finite-duration molecular concentration pulse over the receiver surface. Based on the proposed model, we derive closed form analytical expressions that approximate the received pulse width, pulse delay and pulse amplitude, which can be used to optimize the system from an ICT perspective. We evaluate the accuracy of the proposed model by comparing model-based analytical results to the numerical results obtained by solving the exact system model with COMSOL Multiphysics.