Capacity analysis of a peripheral nerve using modulated compound action potential pulses

Michael Donohoe, Brendan Jennings, Sasitharan Balasubramaniam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Artificial neural stimulation of a peripheral nerve can create an in-body data communications channel. We propose the stimulation of a peripheral nerve using energy-harvesting arrays of nanodevices, embedded in biocompatible tissue patches. The resulting extracellular compound action potential (CAP) pulse can provide a data bit-stream for communicating with an embedded receiver. Our objective is to determine the maximum achievable transmission range of a CAP along a nerve and the maximum sustainable bit rate. We model the generation of a CAP and then compute the reduction in amplitude and the spreading of the pulse with propagation distance. The channel capacity is calculated for ON-OFF keying (OOK) and digital pulse interval modulation. We show that the transmission range depends on the number and diameters of the activated neurons contributing to the CAP amplitude and width. Our modulation analysis demonstrates the effects of attenuation, background noise, the neural refractory period, and pulse broadening on the achievable bit rate. We show how a maximum OOK bit rate of 200 bit/s can be sustained over transmission distances greater than 100 mm. The proposed approach provides a low bit rate, unidirectional asynchronous transmission system that could, for example, deliver simple instructions to an embedded drug-delivery system.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8468186
Pages (from-to)154-164
Number of pages11
JournalIEEE Transactions on Communications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2019


  • amplitude shift keying;bioelectric potentials;biological tissues;biomedical communication;cellular biophysics;channel capacity;data communication;energy harvesting;MISO communication;neurophysiology;prosthetic power supplies;pulse modulation;telecommunication power management;maximum OOK bit rate;transmission distances;capacity analysis;peripheral nerve;modulated compound action potential;artificial neural stimulation;in-body data communications channel;biocompatible tissue patches;data bit-stream;embedded receiver;channel capacity;digital pulse interval modulation;CAP amplitude;pulse broadening;extracellular compound action potential pulse;neural refractory period;unidirectional asynchronous transmission system;Action potentials;Axons;Electrodes;Extracellular;Nanoscale devices;Modulation;Action potentials;asynchronous communication;channel capacity;nanobiotechnology;neurostimulation


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