Bimolecular world for AI research


Scientists from EPFL (Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne) have developed nanosensors on AI, which allow researchers to observe different types of biological molecules without disturbing them.

The world of biomolecules is rich in captivating interactions between many different agents such as intricate nanomachines (proteins), shape-shifting vessels (lipid complexes), chains of vital information (DNA), and energy fuel (carbohydrates). However, the ways in which biomolecules meet and interact to define an essential symphony are incredibly complex.

 Scientists at the Bionanophotonic Systems Laboratory in EPFL’s School of Engineering have developed a new biosensor that can be used to monitor all major classes of nanoworld biomolecules without disturbing them. Their innovative method uses nanotechnology, metasurfaces, infrared light, and artificial intelligence.

In each molecule’s symphony having its own melody, nano-perfect orchestrations work physiological miracles such as sight and taste. Simultaneously, minor dissonances can intensify into terrible cacophonies, leading to pathologies such as cancer and neurodegeneration.

Tuning to this small world and distinguishing between proteins, carbohydrates, lipids, and nucleic acid without disrupting their interaction is essential to understanding life processes and disease mechanisms. Light—and more precisely infrared light—is the core of the biosensor. People cannot see infrared light outside the spectrum of visible light, ranging from blue to red. However, humans can feel it in the form of heat in our bodies as our molecules vibrate under the excitation of infrared light.

If you imagine sound frequencies instead of infrared frequencies, it’s as if each molecule has its own characteristic melody. However, tuning these melodies is very challenging because, without amplification, they are just a whisper in a sea of ​​sounds. To make matters worse, their melodies can be very similar motifs, making them difficult to distinguish.

To solve these two issues, scientists are using AI and Metasurfaces. Metasurfaces are artificial materials with exceptional possibilities for manipulating light on a nanoscale, allowing functions beyond what is otherwise seen in nature. Here, their precisely designed meta-atoms, made of gold nanorods, act as enhancers of light interactions by tapping into plasmonic excitations arising from the collective oscillations of free electrons in metals.

AI is a powerful tool that can feed on more data than humans can process at once, and that can quickly develop the ability to recognize complex data patterns. AI can be imagined as a complete beginner musician who listens to various amplified melodies and creates a perfect ear in just a few minutes and can distinguish them even when played together – as in an orchestra that contains many instruments simultaneously.


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