Engineers at MIT (Cambridge, MA) say they have developed new technology that could be used to evaluate new drugs and detect possible side effects before the drugs are tested in humans.
The researchers used microfluidic technology – the science of manipulating and controlling fluids inside micrometer-sized channels – to create a platform that connects engineered tissues from up to ten organs. The platform allowed the researchers to accurately replicate human organ interactions for weeks at a time, allowing them to measure the effects of drugs on different parts of the body, and offering the potential to reveal whether a drug that is intended to treat one organ will have adverse effects on another.
Although analog computing simple digital operations using operations were demonstrated many years ago the complexity of digital architectures, the incomplete set of photonic equivalents to electronic circuits and the need to move out of and back into the optical domain has held back the use of photonic computing.
Lightmatter has homed in on the artificial intelligence domain where digital operations are more uniform than in general purpose computing and produced a silicon chip that uses light signals, rather than electrical signals, for matrix multiplication.
The system uses heated silicon channels between Mach-Zehnder interferometers to slow down, to varying degrees, optical signals that represent weights. As the signals pass through a cascade of interferometers the input weights are matrix multiplied to produce the required outputs.