EPJ B Highlight - How to stop diseases and forest fires from spreading
- Published on 12 June 2019
A new model, published in EPJ B and exploring how epidemics spread, could help prevent infections and forest fires from getting out of hand
Recently, epidemics like measles have been spreading due to the lack of vaccinations, and forest fires have become increasingly frequent due to climate change. Understanding how both these things spread, and how to stop them, is more important than ever. Now, two researchers from the National Scientific and Technical Research Council in Bariloche, Argentina, have studied the way epidemics spread in heterogeneous populations. Their findings were recently published in European Physical Journal B.
EPJ B Highlight - Inhibitory neurons have two types of impact on brain oscillations
- Published on 28 May 2019
A certain type of neuron, called inhibitory neurons, can have two types of overall effect on oscillations in the brain
Studying the brain involves measuring the activity of billions of individual brain cells called neurons. Consequently, many brain measurement techniques produce data that is averaged to reflect the activity of large populations of these neurons. If all of the neurons are behaving differently, this will average out. But, when the behaviour of individual neurons is synchronized, it produces clearly visible oscillations.
Synchronisation is important to understanding how neurons behave, which is particularly relevant with regard to brain diseases like Alzheimer’s, epilepsy and Parkinson’s. Now, a group of researchers from the Institute of Computational Physics and Complex Systems at Lanzhou University, China, has used a combination of two computer models to study the ways different kinds of neurons can impact synchronisation. The study is published in the European Physical Journal B.
EPJB Colloquium - Complex band-structure analysis and topological physics of Majorana nanowires
- Published on 16 May 2019
In this new Colloquium article published in EPJ B, Javier Osca (IMEC and KU Leuven, Belgium) and Llorenç Serra (IFISC and Departament de Física, Universitat de les Illes Balears, Palma, Spain) review applications of complex band structure theory to describe Majorana states in nanowires and nanowire junctions. The dimensionality of the considered wires is gradually increased, from strictly 1D to quasi-1D with one and two transverse dimensions.
EPJ B Highlight - Magnetic nanoparticles can 'burn' cancer cells
- Published on 03 April 2019
Magnetic hyperthermia is still a highly experimental cancer treatment, but new research shows that the therapy is tunable
Unfortunately, cancer isn’t simply a single disease, and some types, like pancreas, brain or liver tumours, are still difficult to treat with chemotherapy, radiation therapy or surgery, leading to low survival rates for patients. Thankfully, new therapies are emerging, like therapeutic hyperthermia, which heats tumours by firing nanoparticles into tumour cells. In a new study published in EPJ B, Angl Apostolova from the University of Architecture, Civil Engineering and Geodesy in Sofia, Bulgaria and colleagues show that tumour cells’ specific absorption rate of destructive heat depends on the diameter of the nanoparticles and the composition of the magnetic material used to deliver the heat to the tumour.
EPJ B Colloquium - Cooperative magnetic phenomena in artificial spin systems: spin liquids, Coulomb phase and fragmentation of magnetism
- Published on 28 March 2019
Two-dimensional arrays of interacting magnetic nanostructures offer a remarkable playground for simulating, experimentally, lattice spin models. Initially designed to capture the low-energy physics of highly frustrated magnets, they quickly became a lab-on-chip platform to investigate cooperative magnetic phenomena often associated with classical frustrated magnetism.
This Colloquium paper from Nicolas Rougemaille and Benjamin Canals at the Institut NEEL (Univ. Grenoble, CNRS, France) reviews the many-body physics which can be visualized, directly in real space, through the magnetic imaging of artificial arrays of magnetic nanostructures. Particular attention is paid to classical spin liquid states, magnetic Coulomb phases and magnetic moment fragmentation. Other phenomena, such as complex magnetic ordering, charge crystallization and monopole-like excitations, are also described in light of the recent advances in the field.
EPJ B Highlight - Understanding stock market returns: which models fits best?
- Published on 27 March 2019
A comparison of two models for stock market prediction shows clear differences in their accuracy, depending on the length of the forecasting period
Understanding stock market returns hinges on understanding their volatility. Two simple but competing models have been dominant for decades: the Heston model, introduced in 1993, and the multiplicative model, which dates back to 1990. American physicists recently compared the two models by applying them to the United States stock market and using historical data from two indexes: the S&P500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average. In a study published in EPJ B, Rostislav Serota and colleagues from the University of Cincinnati, OH, USA, demonstrate the clear differences between the two models. Simply put, the Heston model is better for predicting long-time accumulations of stock returns, while the multiplicative model is better suited to predicting daily or several-day returns.
EPJ B Highlight - Intelligent metamaterials behave like electrostatic chameleons
- Published on 20 March 2019
Metashells can adapt their wave-bending behaviour based on the characteristics of the material they contain
A chameleon can flexibly change its colour to match its surroundings. And a similar phenomenon can now be seen in a new class of smart materials called metamaterials. The trouble is that these metamaterials lack the ability to respond to nearby objects due to their physical characteristics. To remedy this shortcoming, Chinese physicists have developed so-called 'metashells': hollow shells made of metamaterials and capable of carrying materials in their core. The advantage is that their physical characteristics, such as permittivity - the extent to which a material can store charge within an electrical field - change with the electromagnetic properties of the material they contain. In a recent theoretical study published in EPJ B, Liujun Xu and Jiping Huang from Fudan University in Shanghai, China, describe how they have developed an entire class of these chameleon-like metashells.
EPJ B Highlight - New university ranking system includes the cultural perspective
- Published on 25 January 2019
A new study proposes a new way of ranking universities, using a more balanced cultural view and based on 24 international editions of Wikipedia
Scientists in France have developed a new way of generating a ranking of the world’s universities that places more emphasis on the cultural perspective. In a recent study published in EPJ B, Célestin Coquidé and José Lages, affiliated with the multidisciplinary research institute UTINAM in Besançon, and Dima Shepelyansky from the CNRS in Toulouse, France, perform an analysis of Wikipedia editions in 24 languages, collected in May 2017 - previous studies pursuing a similar approach focused on data from 2013. Employing well-known ranking algorithms, they establish a Wikipedia Ranking of World Universities based on the relative cultural views of each of the 24 language-specific Wikipedia editions. Thus, they provide a more balanced view that reflects the standpoints of different cultures.
EPJ B Highlight - Holey graphene as Holy Grail alternative to silicon chips
- Published on 19 December 2018
Novel spintronics applications could stem from introducing holes into graphene to form triangular antidot lattices, granting the material new magnetic properties
Graphene, in its regular form, does not offer an alternative to silicon chips for applications in nanoelectronics. It is known for its energy band structure, which leaves no energy gap and no magnetic effects. Graphene antidot lattices, however, are a new type of graphene device that contain a periodic array of holes - missing several atoms in the otherwise regular single layer of carbon atoms. This causes an energy band gap to open up around the baseline energy level of the material, effectively turning graphene into a semiconductor. In a new study published in EPJ B, Iranian physicists investigate the effect of antidot size on the electronic structure and magnetic properties of triangular antidots in graphene. Zahra Talebi Esfahani from Payame Noor University in Tehran, Iran, and colleagues have confirmed the existence of a band gap opening in such antidot graphene lattices, which depends on the electron’s spin degree of freedom, and which could be exploited for applications like spin transistors. The authors perform simulations using holes that are shaped like right and equilateral triangles, to explore the effects of both the armchair-shaped and zigzag-shaped edges of graphene holes on the material’s characteristics.
EPJ B Highlight - Preventing concrete bridges from falling apart
- Published on 19 December 2018
Concrete degradation from sulfuric acid can be avoided by finding ways of preventing its gas precursor from adsorbing into concrete
Extremes of temperature, rain, exposure to corrosive substances - all of these environmental factors contribute to the degradation of concrete. Specifically, a gas present in our environment, called hydrogen sulphide, turns into sulphuric acid, a corrosive substance, when combined with rainwater. In a new study published in EPJ B, Matthew Lasich from Mangosuthu University of Technology, Durban, South Africa, examines the adverse consequences of the adsorption of natural gas constituents found in our environment - and mixtures of several such gases -into one of the materials that make up concrete: cement hydrate. Lasich found that the preservation of concrete infrastructure from the corrosive effects would require a pre-treatment targeting the adsorption sites in cement hydrate, where the majority of hydrogen sulphide molecules become attached. However, this approach could prove difficult because of their wide distribution.