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Nov 2023 • Gels 9 (11), 895, 2023

Engineering of PVA/PVP hydrogels for Agricultural Applications

Eyal Malka, Shlomo Margel

Hydrogels have gained significant popularity in agricultural applications in terms of minimizing waste and mitigating the negative environmental impact of agrochemicals. This review specifically examines the utilization of environmentally friendly, shapable hydrogels composed of polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) and polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP) in various casings for crop protection against different pests, fertilizing, and watering. To activate their effectiveness, PVA/PVP hydrogels were loaded with both hydrophilic and hydrophobic environmentally friendly pesticides, namely hydrogen peroxide (HP), the essential oil thymol, and urea as a fertilizer, either separately or in combination. This review covers various physical and chemical approaches used for loading, shaping, and controlling the release profiles of pesticides and fertilizers. Additionally, it explores the evaluation of the chemical composition, structure, classification, rheology, and morphology of the hydrogels as well as their impact on the thermal stability of the encapsulated pesticides and fertilizer, followed by biological tests. These hydrogels significantly contribute to the stabilization and controlled release of essential nutrients and biocides for plants, while maintaining excellent biocidal and fertilizing properties as well as sustainability characteristics. By shedding light on the latest insights into the concepts, applications, and results of these hydrogels, this review demonstrates their immense potential for widespread future use in agriculture.

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Nov 2023 • Advanced Optical Materials

Optical Properties and Ultrafast Near‐Infrared Localized Surface Plasmon Dynamics in Naturally p‐Type Digenite Films

Andrea Villa, Madina Telkhozhayeva, Fabio Marangi, Eti Teblum, Aaron M Ross, Mirko Prato, Luca Andena, Roberto Frassine, Francesco Scotognella, Gilbert Daniel Nessim

Copper chalcogenides are materials characterized by intrinsic doping properties, allowing them to display high carrier concentrations due to their defect‐heavy structures, independent of the preparation method. Such high doping enables these materials to display plasmonic resonances, tunable by varying their stoichiometry. Here, plasmonic dynamics is studied in drop‐cast Cu9S5 (digenite) nanocrystals (NCs) film using ultrafast pump–probe spectroscopy. The NCs are synthesized by thermal annealing of copper foil using chemical vapor deposition (CVD), followed by sonication and drop‐casting of the isolated few‐layered flakes on different substrates. The samples display a broad localized surface plasmon resonance (LSPR) in the near‐infrared (NIR), peaking at 2100 nm. The free carrier response is further confirmed by fitting the linear absorption with a Drude–Lorentz effective medium approximation model …

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Nov 2023 • 2023 Asia Communications and Photonics Conference/2023 International …, 2023

Forward Brillouin Scattering Fiber Sensors

Avi Zadok

Sensors based on forward Brillouin scattering processes allow for quantitative analysis of liquid media and coating layers outside the cladding of standard, unmodified fibers. Point measurements and spatially distributed analysis have been demonstrated.

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Nov 2023 • Bulletin of the American Physical Society

Generating Correlated X-ray Pairs as a Low-Noise Low-Damage Probe

Nicholas Hartley, Daniel Hodge, Eric Christie, Arianna Gleason, Siegfried Glenzer, Aliaksei Halavanau, Abigail Mae Hardy, Colin Recker, Sean Sheehan, Sharon Shwartz, Michael Ware, Richard Sandberg, Gary Walker

PM10. 00002: Generating Correlated X-ray Pairs as a Low-Noise Low-Damage Probe*

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Nov 2023 • Langmuir

Kinetics and Optimization of Hexagonal Palladium Nanosheets: Unveiling Insights into CO-Mediated Synthesis Strategies and Mechanistic Understanding

Mike Rozenberg, Melina Zysler, David Zitoun

Nanoparticles with unique shapes and structures have attracted significant attention due to their distinctive properties and potential applications, but their growth mechanism is often overlooked. Hexagonal palladium nanosheets (HPNS) were synthesized through a CO-mediated reduction approach. Herein, we investigate the kinetics of the HPNS formation and modify the experimental conditions consistently by changing the carbon monoxide (CO) precursor, temperature, and stirring speed. The CO precursor plays a major role in HPNS formation with an emphasis on the kinetics of the release of CO in the solution. Slow-release and atmosphere CO precursors resulted in the highest shape yield of HPNS relative to tetrahedrons, while the fast-release CO precursor leads to the formation of a higher percentage of tetrahedrons. Additionally, an increase of the addition temperature of the CO precursor and a higher …

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Nov 2023 • Light, science & applications

Weak measurements and quantum-to-classical transitions in free electron-photon interactions

Yiming Pan, Eliahu Cohen, Ebrahim Karimi, Avraham Gover, Norbert Schönenberger, Tomáš Chlouba, Kangpeng Wang, Saar Nehemia, Peter Hommelhoff, Ido Kaminer, Yakir Aharonov

How does the quantum-to-classical transition of measurement occur? This question is vital for both foundations and applications of quantum mechanics. Here, we develop a new measurement-based framework for characterizing the classical and quantum free electron–photon interactions and then experimentally test it. We first analyze the transition from projective to weak measurement in generic light–matter interactions and show that any classical electron-laser-beam interaction can be represented as an outcome of weak measurement. In particular, the appearance of classical point-particle acceleration is an example of an amplified weak value resulting from weak measurement. A universal factor, \documentclass[12pt]{minimal} \usepackage{amsmath} \usepackage{wasysym} \usepackage{amsfonts} \usepackage{amssymb} \usepackage{amsbsy} \usepackage{mathrsfs} \usepackage{upgreek …

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Nov 2023 • arXiv preprint arXiv:2211.13658

Cascade infrared thermal photon emission

Klavs Hansen, Ori Licht, Adeliya Kurbanov, Yoni Toker

The time development of the excitation energy of molecules and clusters cooling by emission of thermal vibrational infrared radiation has been studied. The energy distributions and the photon emission rates develop into near-universal functions that can be characterized with only a few parameters, irrespective of the precise vibrational spectra and oscillator strengths of the systems. The photon emission constant and emitted power averaged over all thermally populated states vary linearly with total excitation energy with a small offset. The time developments of ensemble internal energy distributions are calculated with respect to their first two moments. For the derived linear dependence of the emission rate constant, these results are exact.

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Nov 2023 • Journal of the American Chemical Society

Near-Temperature-Independent Electron Transport Well beyond Expected Quantum Tunneling Range via Bacteriorhodopsin Multilayers

Sudipta Bera, Jerry A Fereiro, Shailendra K Saxena, Domenikos Chryssikos, Koushik Majhi, Tatyana Bendikov, Lior Sepunaru, David Ehre, Marc Tornow, Israel Pecht, Ayelet Vilan, Mordechai Sheves, David Cahen

A key conundrum of biomolecular electronics is efficient electron transport (ETp) through solid-state junctions up to 10 nm, often without temperature activation. Such behavior challenges known charge transport mechanisms, especially via nonconjugated molecules such as proteins. Single-step, coherent quantum-mechanical tunneling proposed for ETp across small protein, 2–3 nm wide junctions, but it is problematic for larger proteins. Here we exploit the ability of bacteriorhodopsin (bR), a well-studied, 4–5 nm long membrane protein, to assemble into well-defined single and multiple bilayers, from ∼9 to 60 nm thick, to investigate ETp limits as a function of junction width. To ensure sufficient signal/noise, we use large area (∼10–3 cm2) Au–protein–Si junctions. Photoemission spectra indicate a wide energy separation between electrode Fermi and the nearest protein-energy levels, as expected for a polymer of …

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Nov 2023 • arXiv preprint arXiv:2311.13915

First passage times in compact domains exhibits bi-scaling

Talia Baravi, Eli Barkai

The study of first passage times for diffusing particles reaching target states is foundational in various practical applications, including diffusion-controlled reactions. In this work, we present a bi-scaling theory for the probability density function of first passage times in confined compact processes, applicable to both Euclidean and Fractal domains, diverse geometries, and scenarios with or without external force fields, accommodating Markovian and semi-Markovian random walks. In large systems, first passage time statistics exhibit a bi-scaling behavior, challenging the use of a single time scale. Our theory employs two distinct scaling functions: one for short times, capturing initial dynamics in unbounded systems, and the other for long times is sensitive to finite size effects. The combined framework provides a complete expression for first passage time statistics across all time scales.

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Nov 2023 • Physical Review B

Periodically driven open quantum systems with vibronic interaction: Resonance effects and vibrationally mediated decoupling

Jakob Bätge, Yu Wang, Amikam Levy, Wenjie Dou, Michael Thoss

Periodic driving and Floquet engineering have emerged as invaluable tools for controlling and uncovering novel phenomena in quantum systems. In this study, we adopt these methods to manipulate nonequilibrium processes within electronic-vibronic open quantum systems. Through resonance mechanisms and by focusing on the limit-cycle dynamics and quantum thermodynamic properties, we illustrate the intricate interplay between the driving field and vibronic states and its overall influence on the electronic system. Specifically, we observe an effective decoupling of the electronic system from the periodic driving at specific frequencies, a phenomenon that is mediated by the vibrational mode interaction. Additionally, we engineer the driving field to obtain a partial removal of the Franck-Condon blockade. These insights hold promise for efficient charge current control. Our results are obtained from numerically …

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Nov 2023 • ACS Applied Bio Materials

Zirconium-Coated β-Cyclodextrin Nanomaterials for Biofilm Eradication

Akanksha Gupta, John HT Luong, Aharon Gedanken

Under alkaline treatment, zirconyl chloride (ZrOCl2.8H2O) became a zirconia gel and formed a stable complex with beta-cyclodextrin (βCD). This complex was highly active in reactive oxygen species (ROS) formation via H2O2 decomposition. Its surface with numerous hydroxyl groups acts as an ionic sponge to capture the charged reaction intermediates, including superoxide (O2–•) and the hydroxyl radical (•OH). ROS, especially •OH radicals, are harmful to living microorganisms because of their kinetic instability, high oxidation potential, and chemical nonselectivity. Therefore, •OH radicals can engage in fast reactions with virtually any adjacent biomolecule. With H2O2, the complex with cationic and hydrophobic moieties interacted with the anionic bacterial membrane of two Gram-positive (Staphylococcus aureus and S. epidermidis) and two Gram-negative (Escherichia coli and Klebsiella pneumoniae) strains …

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Nov 2023 • Materials Today Energy

Evolution of ternary LixSnyOz artificial cathode-electrolyte interphase (ACEI) through ALD: a surface strengthened NCM811 with enhanced electrochemical performances for Li-ion …

Arka Saha, Ortal Shalev, Sandipan Maiti, Longlong Wang, Sri Harsha Akella, Bruria Schmerling, Sarah Targin, Maria Tkachev, Xiulin Fan, Malachi Noked

[(LiNi0.8Co0.1Mn0.1)O2], or NCM811, a member of the LixNi1−y−zCoyMnzO2 (NCM) family of cathode active materials (CAMs), is gaining recognition in the battery community as the CAM of choice for future high energy density lithium-ion batteries, given its high nickel content of c. 80%. Yet, its commercialization is impeded by its mechanochemical instability at a high state of charge (SOC), which results in severe capacity fading and active lithium loss during cycling. In this contribution, we report conformal nanometer-thick (c. 4–7 nm) lithiated tin-oxide ternary coatings (LixSnyOz) deposited on NCM811 cathode powder using the atomic layer deposition (ALD) technique. The first-of-its-kind ALD coating, where Li is being accompanied by a second metal ion (Sn); provides a combination of benefits: (i) it stabilizes the crystal structure, (ii) suppresses electrode polarization, (iii) lowers the voltage hysteresis, and (iv …

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Nov 2023 • Nature Communications

A single pseudouridine on rRNA regulates ribosome structure and function in the mammalian parasite Trypanosoma brucei

K Shanmugha Rajan, Hava Madmoni, Anat Bashan, Masato Taoka, Saurav Aryal, Yuko Nobe, Tirza Doniger, Beathrice Galili Kostin, Amit Blumberg, Smadar Cohen-Chalamish, Schraga Schwartz, Andre Rivalta, Ella Zimmerman, Ron Unger, Toshiaki Isobe, Ada Yonath, Shulamit Michaeli

Trypanosomes are protozoan parasites that cycle between insect and mammalian hosts and are the causative agent of sleeping sickness. Here, we describe the changes of pseudouridine (Ψ) modification on rRNA in the two life stages of the parasite using four different genome-wide approaches. CRISPR-Cas9 knock-outs of all four snoRNAs guiding Ψ on helix 69 (H69) of the large rRNA subunit were lethal. A single knock-out of a snoRNA guiding Ψ530 on H69 altered the composition of the 80S monosome. These changes specifically affected the translation of only a subset of proteins. This study correlates a single site Ψ modification with changes in ribosomal protein stoichiometry, supported by a high-resolution cryo-EM structure. We propose that alteration in rRNA modifications could generate ribosomes preferentially translating state-beneficial proteins.

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Nov 2023 • Micromachines 14 (12), 2173, 2023

Fabrication and Applications of Magnetic Polymer Composites for Soft Robotics

Sayan Ganguly, Shlomo Margel

The emergence of magnetic polymer composites has had a transformative impact on the field of soft robotics. This overview will examine the various methods by which innovative materials can be synthesized and utilized. The advancement of soft robotic systems has been significantly enhanced by the utilization of magnetic polymer composites, which amalgamate the pliability of polymers with the reactivity of magnetic materials. This study extensively examines the production methodologies involved in dispersing magnetic particles within polymer matrices and controlling their spatial distribution. The objective is to gain insights into the strategies required to attain the desired mechanical and magnetic properties. Additionally, this study delves into the potential applications of these composites in the field of soft robotics, encompassing various devices such as soft actuators, grippers, and wearable gadgets. The study emphasizes the transformative capabilities of magnetic polymer composites, which offer a novel framework for the advancement of biocompatible, versatile soft robotic systems that utilize magnetic actuation.

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Nov 2023 • MDPI-Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute, 2023

Acceleration of Biodiesel Production

Indra Neel Pulidindi, Aharon Gedanken

The development of renewable energy sources will help alleviate the twin problems of energy appetite and environmental pollution. Among such renewable sources, biofuels standout. Biodiesel is at the top of the list of biofuels that have the potential to substitute conventional fossil-based transportation fuels. The reprint comprises 11 chapters in total dealing with a variety of feedstock needed for the sustainable production of biodiesel, various catalysts that could be used for the accelerated production of biodiesel, and advances in reactor technology for the demand-based production of biodiesel. Indebtedness is due to various research groups, namely: Fahad Rehman and co-workers from Pakistan, Qatar, and the UK; Tao Lyu and co-workers from the UK, China, and Germany; Sandro L. Barbosa and co-workers from Brazil and the USA; Anita Salic and co-workers from Croatia; Fabrizio Roncaglia and co-workers …

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Oct 2023 • bioRxiv

Resolving haplotype variation and complex genetic architecture in the human immunoglobulin kappa chain locus in individuals of diverse ancestry

Eric Engelbrecht, Oscar L Rodriguez, Kaitlyn Shields, Steven Schulze, David Tieri, Uddalok Jana, Gur Yaari, William Lees, Melissa L Smith, Corey T Watson

Immunoglobulins (IGs), critical components of the human immune system, are composed of heavy and light protein chains encoded at three genomic loci. The IG Kappa (IGK) chain locus consists of two large, inverted segmental duplications. The complexity of IG loci has hindered effective use of standard high-throughput methods for characterizing genetic variation within these regions. To overcome these limitations, we leverage long-read sequencing to create haplotype-resolved IGK assemblies in an ancestrally diverse cohort (n=36), representing the first comprehensive description of IGK haplotype variation at population-scale. We identify extensive locus polymorphism, including novel single nucleotide variants (SNVs) and a common novel ~24.7 Kbp structural variant harboring a functional IGKV gene. Among 47 functional IGKV genes, we identify 141 alleles, 64 (45.4%) of which were not previously curated. We report inter-population differences in allele frequencies for 14 of the IGKV genes, including alleles unique to specific populations within this dataset. Finally, we identify haplotypes carrying signatures of gene conversion that associate with enrichment of SNVs in the IGK distal region. These data provide a critical resource of curated genomic reference information from diverse ancestries, laying a foundation for advancing our understanding of population-level genetic variation in the IGK locus.

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Oct 2023 • Chemistry of Materials

Theoretical Insights into High-Entropy Ni-Rich Layered Oxide Cathodes for Low-Strain Li-Ion Batteries

Amreen Bano, Malachi Noked, Dan Thomas Major

Ni-rich, Co-free layered oxide cathode materials are promising candidates for next-generation Li-ion batteries due to their high energy density. However, these cathode materials suffer from rapid capacity fading during electrochemical cycling. To overcome this shortcoming, so-called high-entropy (HE) materials, which are obtained by incorporating multiple dopants, have been suggested. Recent experimental work has shown that HE Ni-rich cathode materials can offer excellent capacity retention on cycling, although a thorough rationale for this has yet to be provided. Here, we present classical and first-principles calculations to elucidate the salient features of HE layered oxides as cathode materials in Li-ion batteries. We suggest that a combination of five prime factors may be responsible for the enhanced performance of HE Ni-rich layered oxide cathode materials over other Ni-rich cathodes: (1) low crystal lattice …

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Oct 2023 • ACS Omega

Synthesis and Characterization of Durable Antibiofilm and Antiviral Silane-Phosphonium Thin Coatings for Medical and Agricultural Applications

Matan Nissim, Taly lline-Vul, Sivan Shoshani, Gila Jacobi, Eyal Malka, Aviv Dombrovsky, Ehud Banin, Shlomo Margel

Pathogens such as bacteria and viruses cause disease in a range of hosts, from humans to plants. Bacterial biofilms, communities of bacteria, e.g., Staphylococcus aureusand Escherichia coli, attached to the surface, create a protective layer that enhances their survival in harsh environments and resistance to antibiotics and the host’s immune system. Biofilms are commonly associated with food spoilage and chronic infections, posing challenges for treatment and prevention. Tomato brown rugose fruit virus (ToBRFV), a newly discovered tobamovirus, infects tomato plants, causing unique symptoms on the fruit, posing a risk for tomato production. The present study focuses on the effectiveness of silane-phosphonium thin coatings on polymeric films, e.g., polypropylene. Phosphonium has significant antibacterial activity and is less susceptible to antibacterial resistance, making it a safer alternative with a reduced …

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Oct 2023

How synchronized human networks escape local minima

Moti Fridman, Elad Shniderman, Yahav Avraham, Shir Shahal, Hamootal Duadi, Nir Davidson

Finding the global minimum in complex networks while avoiding local minima is challenging in many types of networks. We study the dynamics of complex human networks and observed that humans have different methods to avoid local minima than other networks. Humans can change the coupling strength between them or change their tempo. This leads to different dynamics than other networks and makes human networks more robust and better resilient against perturbations. We observed high-order vortex states, oscillation death, and amplitude death, due to the unique dynamics of the network. This research may have implications in politics, economics, pandemic control, decision-making, and predicting the dynamics of networks with artificial intelligence.

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Oct 2023 • arXiv preprint arXiv:2210.02743

Tracking nanoscale perturbation in active disordered media

Renu Yadav, Patrick Sebbah, Maruthi M Brundavanam

The disorder induced feedback makes random lasers very susceptible to any changes in the scattering medium. The sensitivity of the lasing modes to perturbations in the disordered systems have been utilized to map the regions of perturbation. A tracking parameter, that takes into account the cumulative effect of changes in the spatial distribution of the lasing modes of the system has been defined to locate the region in which a scatterer is displaced by a few nanometers. We show numerically that the precision of the method increases with the number of modes. The proposed method opens up the possibility of application of random lasers as a tool for monitoring locations of nanoscale displacement which can be useful for single particle detection and monitoring.

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Oct 2023 • ACS omega

Revealing the DNA Binding Modes of CsoR by EPR Spectroscopy

Yasmin Igbaria-Jaber, Lukas Hofmann, Lada Gevorkyan-Airapetov, Yulia Shenberger, Sharon Ruthstein

In pathogens, a unique class of metalloregulator proteins, called gene regulatory proteins, sense specific metal ions that initiate gene transcription of proteins that export metal ions from the cell, thereby preventing toxicity and cell death. CsoR is a metalloregulator protein found in various bacterial systems that “sense” Cu(I) ions with high affinity. Upon copper binding, CsoR dissociates from the DNA promoter region, resulting in initiation of gene transcription. Crystal structures of CsoR in the presence and absence of Cu(I) from various bacterial systems have been reported, suggesting either a dimeric or tetrameric structure of these helical proteins. However, structural information about the CsoR-DNA complex is missing. Here, we applied electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) spectroscopy to follow the conformational and dynamical changes that Mycobacterium tuberculosis CsoR undergoes upon DNA binding in …

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