Key Resources:

Special Initiatives:

1. Bitcoin’s Transaction Limitations

  • Unsuitable for Micropayments:

    • Slow transaction speeds (7 transactions per second), with minimal improvement even after SegWit.
    • Block size limitations to prevent centralization.
    • Mining/consensus algorithm constraints to avoid forks.
    • High transaction fees.
    • Limited scalability.
  • Solutions for Accelerating Transactions:

    • SQL for centralization.
    • Sidechains, dependent on adoption and centralization.
    • Transaction channels.

2. Multisignature (Multi-Sig) Transactions

2.1 Pay-to-Multi-Signature (P2MS)

  • BIP 11: P2MS

    • Implemented in January 2012.
    • Limitations include no explicit transaction address and low market share (less than 1%).
    • Script contains multiple public keys, with a maximum of 3-of-3 signatories.
    • Modifications included increasing Tx scriptSigs from 200 to 500 bytes.
    • Drawbacks in unlocking scripts.
    • Locking script format: m {pubkey}...{pubkey} n OP_CHECKMULTISIG.

    Examples of Multi-Sig:

    • 2-of-2: Asset custodian services.
    • 2-of-3: Online auction platforms with an arbitrator.

2.2 Pay-to-Script-Hash (P2SH)

  • BIP 13: P2SH
    • Implemented in April 2012, P2SH introduced a new way of handling complex transactions:
    • Utilizes a redeem script to replace P2MS data.
    • Offers explicit addresses starting with ‘3’.
    • Shifts the complexity to the recipient’s side.
    • Addresses begin with ‘3’, reducing the transaction fee burden.
    • The storage space is managed by the subsequent transaction handler.

Address Prefixes and Script Types

Prefix Locking Script Address Start Example Address
00 Pay to Public Key Hash (P2PKH) 1 1AKDDsfTh8uY4X3ppy1m7jw1fVMBSMkzjP
05 Pay to Script Hash (P2SH) 3 34nSkinWC9rDDJiUY438qQN1JHmGqBHGW7
6F P2PKH (Testnet) m/n ms2qxPw1Q2nTkm4eMHqe6mM7JAFqAwDhpB
C4 P2SH (Testnet) 2 2MwSNRexxm3uhAKF696xq3ztdiqgMj36rJo

2.3 Segregated Witness (SegWit)

SegWit introduces significant improvements:

  • Resolves transaction malleability for P2PK, P2PKH, P2MS, and P2SH.
  • Changes block size calculations to weights, allowing blocks up to 1.8MB.
  • Reduces the weight of transaction signatures, enabling nearly sevenfold reductions in transaction fees.
  • Adds wp2pkh and wp2sh, incorporating transaction versioning for future upgrades.

Key BIPs for SegWit:

  • BIP 141: Broad definition of SegWit.
  • BIP 142: Initial SegWit address definition, replaced by BIP 173’s Bech32 addresses.
  • BIP 143: Adds transaction versioning, defines new transaction validation (wp2pkh, wp2sh).
  • BIP 144: Defines SegWit-compliant P2P network.
  • BIP 145: Describes getblock for SegWit networks.
  • BIP 173: Defines the Bech32 address format for SegWit, addressing issues of Base58 such as QR code space consumption, voice recognition challenges for upper/lower case, performance issues, and lack of error detection.

SegWit Address Format

3. Time Locks in Bitcoin

3.1 Absolute Time Locks: nLockTime and CheckLockTimeVerify (CLTV)

  • nLockTime:

    • An off-chain absolute time lock using UNIX/block time, introduced by Satoshi Nakamoto in Bitcoin 0.1. As of earlier this year, transactions with nLockTime set to 0 constituted only about 20% of all transactions.
  • CheckLockTimeVerify (CLTV):

    • An on-chain absolute time lock, similar in format to nLockTime.
    • Defined in BIP65.
    • Allows funds to be accessible to a party only after a specified future point in time.
    • Use cases include escrow services, two-factor wallets, payment channels, trustless payments for publishing data, proving sacrifice to miners’ fees, freezing funds, and potentially replacing the nLockTime field.

3.2 Relative Time Locks: BIP68 and BIP112

  • Relative Locktime (BIP68):

    • Introduces consensus-enforced sequence numbers as a format for relative time locks.
    • Detailed in BIP68.

    • Complements BIP68 by allowing transactions to be unlocked relative to the age of the input.
    • Detailed in BIP112.
    • Has applications in escrow with timeout, retroactive invalidation, hash time-locked contracts, bidirectional payment channels, and Lightning Network.
  • BIP113:

    • Defines a new decentralized measure of time for use with CHECKSEQUENCEVERIFY.

For further reading on Bitcoin’s time locks, refer to Bitcoin’s Time Locks.

4. Transaction Malleability

  • BIP 62:

    • Addressed nine types of transaction malleability issues. More information can be found here.
  • BIP 66:

    • Enforces DER encoding to counteract certain forms of transaction malleability. Details are available here.
  • SegWit:

    • Also addresses transaction malleability by changing how transaction data is stored and transmitted.

5. Evolution of Payment Channels

  1. Nakamoto High-Frequency Transactions (nSequence + nLockTime):

    • Introduced in Bitcoin 0.1, but susceptible to miner collusion.
  2. Spillman-style Payment Channels:

    • Proposed by Peter

Todd in April 2013, implemented in BitcoinJ.

  • Uses nLockTime to prevent miners from prematurely including transactions.
  • Vulnerable to transaction malleability and doesn’t allow funds to be returned along the same channel.
  • Details: Bitcoin Wiki.
  1. CLTV-style Payment Channels:

    • Introduced with BIP 65 in October 2014.
    • Single-directional channels with a specific expiration time.
    • Resists the malleability issues present in Spillman-style channels.
    • Requires the new OP_CLTV for implementation.
  2. Poon-Dryja Payment Channels (Lightning Network BOLT3):

  3. Decker-Wattenhofer Duplex Payment Channels:

    • Proposed by ETH Zurich’s Distributed Computing Group in August 2015.
    • Relies on BIP 68 relative time locks.
    • Composed of two single-directional (Spillman-style) channels.
  4. Decker-Russell-Osuntokun eltoo Channels:

  5. Hashed Time-Locked Contracts (HTLCs):

    • HTLCs are a critical component in the operation of the Lightning Network.
    • They enable the creation of trustless, bidirectional payment channels by using hashlocks in addition to timelocks.
  6. Reaching The Ground With Lightning:

The evolution of payment channels in Bitcoin showcases the ongoing efforts to enhance scalability, security, and efficiency in blockchain technology. Each of these developments contributes to the robustness of Bitcoin’s off-chain transaction capabilities, culminating in the sophisticated systems used in the Lightning Network today.

6. Lightweight Nodes

(This section is currently empty and might need additional content related to Lightweight Nodes in the context of the Lightning Network or blockchain technology.)

7. Lightning Network Setup and Challenges

7.1 Single-directional Channels


  • Creation of a wp2sh-address-AB between parties A and B.
  • A deposits funds (Funding Transaction) as collateral to prevent B from absconding.
  • Setting a future nlocktime to return funds to A.
  • Continuously refreshing transactions.
  • Broadcasting the final transaction record.


  • Unidirectional flow of funds.
  • Waiting for nlocktime to redeem funds.

7.2 Revocable Sequence Maturity Contract (RSMC)

RSMC facilitates reversible relative time-lock contracts. More information can be found in this detailed explanation.


  • Generation of a wp2sh address.
  • Both parties contribute funds to the Funding Transaction.
  • Setting up refund conditions proportional to contributions.

Transaction Structure

  • For each transaction:
    • New states are refreshed, and old ones are invalidated.
    • Closing channel’s sequence is set to 0.
    • Completion of Commitment Transactions is required to release funding transactions.

Default Cases

  • If party A defaults:
    • A’s commitment transaction and refund amount are immediately payable to B1, but with a sequence delay as a penalty.
    • B’s transactions are unaffected.
  • Transaction Structure for Penalties:
    • A’s commitment transaction is payable immediately to B1.
    • Refund amounts require a sequence delay.
    • Penalty transactions are enabled using B1’s private key.


  • Bidirectional flow of funds.
  • No waiting for redemption time.
  • Ensures neither party acts maliciously.

7.3 Hash Time-Locked Contracts (HTLCs)

(This section is currently empty and might need additional content related to HTLCs and their role in the Lightning Network.)


  • Routing:
    • Risk of intermediaries withholding funds.
    • Finding the optimal path based on speed, stability, and cost.
    • Dealing with routing delays and inactive (zombie) nodes.
  • Collateral:
    • Optimizing deposit amounts for regular users and operators.
    • Calculating returns on deposit deployment for operators.
    • Dynamic fee adjustments.
  • Online Requirement:
    • Inconvenience and security risks of both parties being constantly online.
  • Malicious Actors:
    • Need for watchtowers, both client and server-side, to prevent fraud.

8. Development

Basis of Lightning Technology (BOLT)

A comprehensive list of BOLTs, including protocols and formats, can be found in these resources:


  • lightningnetwork/lnd: A complete implementation of a Lightning Network node (Golang).
  • ElementsProject/lightning: A C-language compliant Lightning Network implementation (C).
  • ACINQ/eclair: Scala implementation of the Lightning Network, operable with or without a GUI and accessible via a JSON-RPC API (Scala).
  • Additional implementations in various programming languages like Go, C++, and Rust are also available.

Wallet Types in the Lightning Network

Centralized vs Decentralized Wallets

  • Centralized Wallets: These wallets are controlled by a centralized entity. They offer ease of use but less control over private keys and funds.
  • Decentralized Wallets: In contrast, decentralized wallets give users full control over their keys and funds, aligning with the core ethos of blockchain technology.

Watchtowers in the Lightning Network

Watchtowers play a crucial role in the security of the Lightning Network, monitoring channels and ensuring that all parties act honestly.

Selective Support Features

  • HD Wallets: Hierarchical Deterministic wallets allow for streamlined management of multiple addresses and keys.
  • TOR Support: Ensuring privacy and security through lightning-onion.
  • Pruned Nodes: These nodes save space by downloading only a portion of the blockchain, ideal for users with limited storage.

9. Current State of the Lightning Network

  • Lightning Network Explorers:
    • Example: 1ML.
  • Other Networks: Discussion on alternative networks like the Liquid Network.

Cypherpunks Core Resources

Rusty Russell’s Coding Blog

A series of informative blog posts covering various aspects of the Lightning Network:

Bitmex Research on the Lightning Network

A series of in-depth articles exploring various technical and economic aspects of the Lightning Network:

  • Part 1: Discusses routing issues, the challenge of auto-pilot algorithms, centralization around large hubs, and online requirements.
  • Part 2: Focuses on transaction fees, collateral optimization, and the dynamics between users and platform providers. Illustrates the cost of running nodes and the economics of transaction fees versus transaction volumes.
  • Part 3: Delves into the penalty mechanisms for malicious behavior, different methods of closing channels, and the frequency and amounts related to ‘justice’ transactions.
  • Part 4: Covers the function of watchtowers and the importance of backup solutions like Static Channel Backups for stability and security.
  • Part 5: Introduces the BitMEX research on penalty transactions, highlighting that the occurrences of ‘justice’ aren’t directly correlated with transaction fees.


This article has provided an overview of the various components and current research within the Lightning Network. From different types of wallets, the importance of watchtowers, to in-depth research from Bitmex and insights from Rusty Russell’s blog, it covers a wide array of topics crucial for understanding the Lightning Network’s infrastructure and challenges. The Lightning Network represents a significant advancement in the scalability and efficiency of blockchain transactions, but it also brings new complexities and considerations in network management, security, and economics.

Exploring the Lightning Network and State Channels on Ethereum

EthFans - State Channels

Major Limitations of the Lightning Network

Lightning vs Raiden: The Watchtower Model

For Beginners

Additional Resources

BitcoinMagazine - Understanding the Lightning Network

CSDN - In-Depth Lightning Network Analysis

  • Detailed explanations of Lightning Network concepts, including nLockTime (CLTV) and Sequence number (CSV), MicroPayment Channel, RSMC, Script Language and Engine, HTLC, and transaction malleability.

Living a Simple Life is a Happy Life - Lightning Network Series

  • A series of blogs exploring the Lightning Network’s growth, setup guides, and advanced concepts like Eltoo - a mechanism for updating offline contracts.

Key Questions and Considerations

  • How does the 2-of-2 transaction nature of Lightning Network channels affect transaction fees, particularly in scenarios where a third party might be involved in the final payout?
  • The power vested in ‘justice transactions’ seems significant. How does this impact the potential for wrongful appropriation of funds, and is there a risk of framing individuals?
  • How are smart contracts implemented and executed on the Lightning Network, considering its unique infrastructure and operational mechanics?