Acoustic communication has been gaining traction as an alternative communication method in nontraditional media, such as underwater or through tissue. Acoustic propagation is known to be a nonlinear phenomenon; nonlinear propagation of acoustic waves in soft tissues at biomedical frequencies and intensities has been widely demonstrated. However, the effects of acoustic nonlinearity on communication performance in biological tissues have not yet been examined. In this work, nonlinear propagation of a communication signal in soft tissues is analyzed. The relationship between communication parameters (signal amplitude, bandwidth, and center frequency) and nonlinear distortion of the communication signal propagating in soft tissues with different acoustic properties is investigated. Simulated experiments revealed that, unlike linear channels, bit error rates increase as signal amplitude and bandwidth increase. Linear and decision feedback equalizers fail to address the increased error rates. When tissue properties and transmission parameters can be estimated, receivers based on maximum likelihood sequence estimation approach the performance of an ideal receiver in an ideal additive white Gaussian noise channel.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3583-3594
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Acoustics and Ultrasonics


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