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Concept: Electric current


Quasi-particle excitations in graphene exhibit a unique behavior concerning two key phenomena of mesoscopic physics: electron localization and the quantum Hall effect. A direct transition between these two states has been found in disordered two-dimensional electron gases at low magnetic field. It has been suggested that it is a quantum phase transition, but the nature of the transition is still debated. Despite the large number of works studying either the localization or the quantum Hall regime in graphene, such a transition has not been investigated for Dirac fermions. Here we discuss measurements on low-mobility graphene where the localized state at low magnetic fields and a quantum Hall state at higher fields are observed. We find that the system undergoes a direct transition from the insulating to the Hall conductor regime. Remarkably, the transverse magneto-conductance shows a temperature independent crossing point, pointing to the existence of a genuine quantum phase transition.

Concepts: Electron, Magnetic field, Fundamental physics concepts, Spin, Condensed matter physics, Electric current, Hall effect, Quantum Hall effect


Slime mould Physarum polycephalum is a single cell visible by the unaided eye. Let the slime mould span two electrodes with a single protoplasmic tube: if the tube is heated to approximately ≈40 °C, the electrical resistance of the protoplasmic tube increases from ≈3 MΩ to ≈10,000 MΩ. The organism’s resistance is not proportional nor correlated to the temperature of its environment. Slime mould can therefore not be considered as a thermistor but rather as a thermic switch. We employ the P. polycephalum thermic switch to prototype hybrid electrical analog summator, NAND gates, and cascade the gates into Flip-Flop latch. Computing operations performed on this bio-hybrid computing circuitry feature high repeatability, reproducibility and comparably low propagation delays.

Concepts: Electric current, Heat, Slime mold, Electronic engineering, Resistor, Physarum polycephalum, Slime molds, Series and parallel circuits


Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) is an emerging non-invasive neuromodulation technique that applies mA currents at the scalp to modulate cortical excitability. Here, we present a novel magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technique, which detects magnetic fields induced by tDCS currents. This technique is based on Ampere’s law and exploits the linear relationship between direct current and induced magnetic fields. Following validation on a phantom with a known path of electric current and induced magnetic field, the proposed MRI technique was applied to a human limb (to demonstrate in-vivo feasibility using simple biological tissue) and human heads (to demonstrate feasibility in standard tDCS applications). The results show that the proposed technique detects tDCS induced magnetic fields as small as a nanotesla at millimeter spatial resolution. Through measurements of magnetic fields linearly proportional to the applied tDCS current, our approach opens a new avenue for direct in-vivo visualization of tDCS target engagement.

Concepts: Brain, Electromagnetism, Magnetic field, Electricity, Spin, Electric current, Magnetic resonance imaging, Magnetism


We derive two principal components (PCs) of temporal magnetic field variations over the solar cycles 21-24 from full disk magnetograms covering about 39% of data variance, with σ = 0.67. These PCs are attributed to two main magnetic waves travelling from the opposite hemispheres with close frequencies and increasing phase shift. Using symbolic regeression analysis we also derive mathematical formulae for these waves and calculate their summary curve which we show is linked to solar activity index. Extrapolation of the PCs backward for 800 years reveals the two 350-year grand cycles superimposed on 22 year-cycles with the features showing a remarkable resemblance to sunspot activity reported in the past including the Maunder and Dalton minimum. The summary curve calculated for the next millennium predicts further three grand cycles with the closest grand minimum occurring in the forthcoming cycles 26-27 with the two magnetic field waves separating into the opposite hemispheres leading to strongly reduced solar activity. These grand cycle variations are probed by α - Ω dynamo model with meridional circulation. Dynamo waves are found generated with close frequencies whose interaction leads to beating effects responsible for the grand cycles (350-400 years) superimposed on a standard 22 year cycle. This approach opens a new era in investigation and confident prediction of solar activity on a millenium timescale.

Concepts: Magnetic field, Mathematics, Sun, Electric current, Principal component analysis, Phase, Sunspot, Solar cycle


Transverse thermoelectric devices produce electric fields perpendicular to an incident heat flux. Classically, this process is driven by the Nernst effect in bulk solids, wherein a magnetic field generates a Lorentz force on thermally excited electrons. The spin Seebeck effect also produces magnetization-dependent transverse electric fields. It is traditionally observed in thin metallic films deposited on electrically insulating ferromagnets, but the films' high resistance limits thermoelectric conversion efficiency. Combining Nernst and spin Seebeck effect in bulk materials would enable devices with simultaneously large transverse thermopower and low electrical resistance. Here we demonstrate experimentally that this is possible in composites of conducting ferromagnets (Ni or MnBi) containing metallic nanoparticles with strong spin-orbit interactions (Pt or Au). These materials display positive shifts in transverse thermopower attributable to inverse spin Hall electric fields in the nanoparticles. This more than doubles the power output of the Ni-Pt materials, establishing proof of principle that the spin Seebeck effect persists in bulk nanocomposites.

Concepts: Electron, Electromagnetism, Magnetic field, Electricity, Electric current, Thermodynamics, Thermoelectric effect, Faraday's law of induction


The way conduction electrons respond to ultrafast external perturbations in low dimensional materials is at the core of the design of future devices for (opto)electronics, photodetection and spintronics. Highly charged ions provide a tool for probing the electronic response of solids to extremely strong electric fields localized down to nanometre-sized areas. With ion transmission times in the order of femtoseconds, we can directly probe the local electronic dynamics of an ultrathin foil on this timescale. Here we report on the ability of freestanding single layer graphene to provide tens of electrons for charge neutralization of a slow highly charged ion within a few femtoseconds. With values higher than 10(12) A cm(-2), the resulting local current density in graphene exceeds previously measured breakdown currents by three orders of magnitude. Surprisingly, the passing ion does not tear nanometre-sized holes into the single layer graphene. We use time-dependent density functional theory to gain insight into the multielectron dynamics.

Concepts: Electron, Electromagnetism, Electric charge, Magnetic field, Fundamental physics concepts, Maxwell's equations, Electric current, Ion


Vision loss after optic neuropathy is considered irreversible. Here, repetitive transorbital alternating current stimulation (rtACS) was applied in partially blind patients with the goal of activating their residual vision.

Concepts: Clinical trial, Electricity, Electromagnetic radiation, Electric current, Glaucoma, Ophthalmology, Alternating current, Optic nerve


Limited training, high cost, and low equipment mobility leads to inaccuracies in decision making and is concerning with serious ocular injuries such as suspected ruptured globe or post-operative infections. Here, we present a novel point-of-service (POS) quantitative ascorbic acid (AA) assay with use of the OcuCheck Biosensor. The present work describes the development and clinical testing of the paper-based biosensor that measures the changes in electrical resistance of the enzyme-plated interdigitated electrodes to quantify the level of AA present in ocular fluid. We have demonstrated the proof-of-concept of the biosensor testing 16 clinical samples collected from aqueous humor of patients undergoing therapeutic anterior chamber paracentesis. Comparing with gold standard colorimetric assay for AA concentration, OcuCheck showed accuracy of >80%, sensitivity of >88% and specificity of >71%. At present, there are no FDA-approved POS tests that can directly measures AA concentration levels in ocular fluid. We envisage that the device can be realized as a handheld, battery powered instrument that will have high impact on glaucoma care and point-of-care diagnostics of penetrating ocular globe injuries.

Concepts: Present, Decision making, Acid, Electric current, Electrochemistry, Battery, Aqueous humour, Ascorbic acid


The tidal flow of electrically conductive oceans through the geomagnetic field results in the generation of secondary magnetic signals, which provide information on the subsurface structure. Data from the new generation of satellites were shown to contain magnetic signals due to tidal flow; however, there are no reports that these signals have been used to infer subsurface structure. We use satellite-detected tidal magnetic fields to image the global electrical structure of the oceanic lithosphere and upper mantle down to a depth of about 250 km. The model derived from more than 12 years of satellite data reveals a ≈72-km-thick upper resistive layer followed by a sharp increase in electrical conductivity likely associated with the lithosphere-asthenosphere boundary, which separates colder rigid oceanic plates from the ductile and hotter asthenosphere.

Concepts: Magnetic field, Earth, Electric current, Electrical conductor, Plate tectonics, Lithosphere, Electrical conductivity, Structure of the Earth


Oxygen consumption in marine sediments is often coupled to the oxidation of sulphide generated by degradation of organic matter in deeper, oxygen-free layers. Geochemical observations have shown that this coupling can be mediated by electric currents carried by unidentified electron transporters across centimetre-wide zones. Here we present evidence that the native conductors are long, filamentous bacteria. They abounded in sediment zones with electric currents and along their length they contained strings with distinct properties in accordance with a function as electron transporters. Living, electrical cables add a new dimension to the understanding of interactions in nature and may find use in technology development.

Concepts: Electron, Electric charge, Electricity, Electric current, Lightning, Electrical conductor, Sediment, Molecule