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Molecular communications achieved, wireless network made of rubbing alcohol sends text message

Posted: , by Maxwell R.

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Molecular communications achieved, wireless network made of rubbing alcohol sends text message
You read that right, researchers at the University of Warwick in the United Kingdom and at York University in Canada have been able to send a text message over a network that is based on molecular structure, rather than on electromagnetic radiation.

Is there a practical application in mind for such a system? Yes, especially in some industrial applications where traditional radio signaling is simply not reliable. Molecular methods may see wide use in underwater, underground, pipelines, and even the human body.

The signaling pattern used to transmit a text message via alcohol is based on alcohol concentration. All the signals are binary in nature, and the speed of transmission is very, very slow. The signals work however, and basically are not that different from how animals pick up on pheromones.

Based on alcohol density, the methodology is actually simple. On one end of the set-up is an alcohol spray, on the other end are a series of sensors that receive the message. On both ends are Arduino microcontrollers that encode and decode the message. There is a fan that helps the “signal” reach its destination from the sprayer.

The messages have been successfully transmitted a distance of four meters. When we said that the speed was slow, we meant it. Try 0.2 bits per second slow. 0.2bps is about one bit every five seconds. The text message, “O CANADA,” took three minutes to transmit. However, speeds could be greatly increased through the use of other chemical compounds, and other detection methods.

Industrial applications are just the beginning too. Soon, we may be able to harness this technology that would enable direct communication and instruction to the cells and molecules in our own bodies. That would be quite a network.  Check out the photos and video below.


source: Extreme Tech

8 Comments
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posted on 21 Dec 2013, 02:18 1

1. N-fanboy (Posts: 538; Member since: 12 Jan 2013)


That slow speed reminds me of the data connection down here in Ethiopia: 8kbps (on mobile, that is).

posted on 21 Dec 2013, 02:21 2

3. DEATHSTROKE9 (Posts: 399; Member since: 09 Nov 2013)


Wha.. what? Lol

posted on 21 Dec 2013, 10:08

7. Napalm_3nema (Posts: 1260; Member since: 14 Jun 2013)


It will get better. I remember the days when we used to be happy to nail 4kbps on downloads...on home internet.

posted on 21 Dec 2013, 02:20 1

2. DEATHSTROKE9 (Posts: 399; Member since: 09 Nov 2013)


Nah.... optic fibers are the best mode of communication.

posted on 21 Dec 2013, 02:25

5. taikucing (unregistered)


I cut the fibers and say goodbye ;)

posted on 21 Dec 2013, 09:07

6. Droid_X_Doug (Posts: 5920; Member since: 22 Dec 2010)


What happens when there are no fibers?

Separately, with the molecular net, it would seem to be dependent on environmental conditions - a mild crosswind would seem to play havoc. A great research idea. Maybe with time, it gets improved.

posted on 21 Dec 2013, 02:24 1

4. taikucing (unregistered)


this is mind blowing

posted on 21 Dec 2013, 10:52 2

8. JewBakaUCFG (Posts: 173; Member since: 25 Sep 2012)


I simply don't see the long distance application of this. Are we supposed to have a bunch of giant alcohol spray bottles spraying the world 24/7? Maybe I am misunderstanding this because it is just research.

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