The university reports that a mathematical model based on the complex interaction between the organs has now been transferred to the world of communications.
The promise of the discovery is that it "offers an infinite number of choices for the secret encryption key shared between the sender and receiver". This would make it virtually impossible for eavesdroppers to crack the code.
Lancaster says the new method is exceptionally resistant to interference from the random "noise" that affects all communications systems.
It can also transmit several different information streams simultaneously. This would enable, for example, all the digital devices in the home to operate on one encryption key instead of dozens of different ones.
Inspiration for the new method of encryption came from interdisciplinary research in the Physics Department by Dr Tomislav Stankovski, Professor Peter McClintock, and Professor Aneta Stefanovska, and the patent application includes Dr Robert Young.
"This promises an encryption scheme that is so nearly unbreakable that it will be equally unwelcome to internet criminals and official eavesdroppers," said Professor McClintock.
"Here we offer a novel encryption scheme derived from biology, radically different from any earlier procedure," said Dr Stankovski. "Inspired by the time-varying nature of the cardio-respiratory coupling functions recently discovered in humans, we propose a new encryption scheme that is highly resistant to conventional methods of attack."
The research is published in the American Physical Society’s journal Physical Review X and a patent application "Encoding Data Using Dynamic System Coupling" has been filed.