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Concept: Electric potential


The link between object perception and neural activity in visual cortical areas is a problem of fundamental importance in neuroscience. Here we show that electrical potentials from the ventral temporal cortical surface in humans contain sufficient information for spontaneous and near-instantaneous identification of a subject’s perceptual state. Electrocorticographic (ECoG) arrays were placed on the subtemporal cortical surface of seven epilepsy patients. Grayscale images of faces and houses were displayed rapidly in random sequence. We developed a template projection approach to decode the continuous ECoG data stream spontaneously, predicting the occurrence, timing and type of visual stimulus. In this setting, we evaluated the independent and joint use of two well-studied features of brain signals, broadband changes in the frequency power spectrum of the potential and deflections in the raw potential trace (event-related potential; ERP). Our ability to predict both the timing of stimulus onset and the type of image was best when we used a combination of both the broadband response and ERP, suggesting that they capture different and complementary aspects of the subject’s perceptual state. Specifically, we were able to predict the timing and type of 96% of all stimuli, with less than 5% false positive rate and a ~20ms error in timing.

Concepts: Psychology, Electric potential, Cognition, Cerebral cortex, Subject, Concepts in metaphysics, Object, Spectrum


Cracks in solid-state materials are typically irreversible. Here we report electrically reversible opening and closing of nanoscale cracks in an intermetallic thin film grown on a ferroelectric substrate driven by a small electric field (~0.83 kV/cm). Accordingly, a nonvolatile colossal electroresistance on-off ratio of more than 108 is measured across the cracks in the intermetallic film at room temperature. Cracks are easily formed with low-frequency voltage cycling and remain stable when the device is operated at high frequency, which offers intriguing potential for next-generation high-frequency memory applications. Moreover, endurance testing demonstrates that the opening and closing of such cracks can reach over 107 cycles under 10-μs pulses, without catastrophic failure of the film.

Concepts: Electron, Electromagnetism, Electric charge, Michael Faraday, Electric potential, Direct current, Alternating current, Faraday's law of induction


Insulator-based dielectrophoresis can be used to manipulate biological particles, but has thus far found limited practical applications due to low sensitivity. We present linear sweep three-dimensional insulator-based dielectrophoresis as a considerably more sensitive approach for strain-level discrimination bacteria. In this work, linear sweep three-dimensional insulator-based dielectrophoresis was performed on Pseudomonas aeruginosa PA14 along with six isogenic mutants as well as Streptococcus mitis SF100 and PS344. Strain-level discrimination was achieved between these clinically important pathogens with applied electric fields below 10 V/mm. This low voltage, high sensitivity technique has potential applications in clinical diagnostics as well as microbial physiology research.

Concepts: Archaea, Bacteria, Electric potential, Organism, Microbiology, Antibiotic resistance, Streptococcus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa


Monolayer graphene sheets were deposited on a transparent and flexible polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) substrate, and a tensile strain was loaded by stretching the substrate in one direction. It was found that an electric potential difference between stretched and static monolayer graphene sheets reached 8 mV when the strain was 5%. Theoretical calculations for the band structure and total energy revealed an alternative way to experimentally tune the band gap of monolayer graphene, and induce the generation of electricity.

Concepts: Electric potential, Energy, Direct current, Alternating current, Potential energy, Voltage, Band gap, Volt


The influence of the shape of a polyelectrolyte (PE) on its electrophoretic behavior in a nanofluidic channel is investigated by considering the translocation of a deformable ellipsoidal PE along the axis of a cylindrical nanochannel. A continuum model comprising a Poisson equation for the electric potential, Nernst-Planck equations for the ionic concentrations, and modified Stokes equations for the flow field is adopted. The effects of the PE shape, boundary, bulk ionic concentration, counterion condensation, electroosmotic retardation flow, and electroosmotic flow (EOF) on the PE mobility are discussed. Several interesting behaviors are observed. For example, if the nanochannel is uncharged and the double layer is thick, then the PE mobility increases (decreases) with increasing double-layer thickness for a smaller (larger) boundary, which has not been reported previously. If the nanochannel is negatively charged and the double layer is thick, then a negatively charged PE moves in the direction of the applied electric field. The results gathered provide necessary information for both the interpretation of experimental data and the design of nanochannel-based sensing devices.

Concepts: Electromagnetism, Electric charge, Electric potential, Electrostatics, Maxwell's equations, Capillary electrophoresis, Faraday's law of induction, Zeta potential


Professional electricians are highly subjected to electrical injuries. Previous studies describing symptoms after electrical injury have not included people with less severe initial injuries. The purpose of the present study was to describe symptoms at different time points after electrical injury, the impact of “no-let-go” phenomenon and different electrical potential [high voltage (HV) vs. low voltage (LV)], and the safety culture at the workplace.

Concepts: Time, Electric potential, Injuries, Alternating current, High voltage, Voltage, Electric shock, Electrical safety


We study spin transport in a fully hBN encapsulated monolayer-graphene van der Waals heterostructure at room temperature. A top-layer of bilayer-hBN is used as a tunnel barrier for spin-injection and detection in graphene with ferromagnetic cobalt electrodes. We report surprisingly large and bias-induced (differential) spin-injection (detection) polarizations up to 50% (135%) at a positive voltage bias of + 0.6 V, as well as sign inverted polarizations up to -70% (-60%) at a reverse bias of -0.4 V. This demonstrates the potential of bilayer-hBN tunnel barriers for practical graphene spintronics applications. With such enhanced spin-injection and detection polarizations, we report a record two-terminal (inverted) spin-valve signals up to 800 Ω with a magnetoresistance ratio of 2.7%, and achieve spin accumulations up to 4.1 meV. We propose how these numbers can be increased further, for future technologically relevant graphene based spintronic devices.In 2D spin-valve devices, effective spin injection and detection can be potentially realised combining graphene with an ideal hBN tunnel barrier. Here, the authors report that a bilayer hBN tunnel barrier allows up to 100% spin-injection and detection in a fully hBN-encapsulated graphene heterostructure.

Concepts: Electron, Electric potential, Fundamental physics concepts, Spin, Magnetism, Spintronics, Barriers, Giant magnetoresistance


Retinal prosthesis or artificial retina is a promising modality of treatment for outer retinal degeneration, caused by primary and secondary loss of photoreceptor cells, in hereditary retinal dystrophy and age-related macular degeneration, respectively. Okayama University-type retinal prosthesis (OUReP) is a photoelectric dye-coupled polyethylene film which generates electric potential in response to light and stimulates nearby neurons. The dye-coupled films were implanted by vitreous surgery in the subretinal space of monkey eyes with macular degeneration which had been induced by cobalt chloride injection from the scleral side. A pilot 1-month observation study involved 6 monkeys and a pivotal 6-month observation study involved 8 monkeys. Of 8 monkeys in 6-month group, 3 monkeys underwent dye-coupled film removal at 5 months and were observed further for 1 month. The amplitude of visual evoked potential which had been reduced by macular degeneration did recover at 1 month after film implantation and maintained the level at 6 months. Optical coherence tomography showed no retinal detachment, and full-field electroretinograms maintained a-wave and b-wave amplitudes, indicative of no retinal toxicity. Pathological examinations after 6-month implantation showed structural integrity of the inner retinal layer in close apposition to dye-coupled films. The implanted films which were removed by vitrectomy 5 months later showed light-evoked surface electric potentials by scanning Kelvin probe measurement. The photoelectric dye-coupled film (OUReP), which serves as a light-receiver and a displacement current generator in the subretinal space of the eye, has a potential for recovering vision in diseases with photoreceptor cell loss, such as retinitis pigmentosa and age-related macular degeneration.

Concepts: Electric potential, Retina, Eye, Photoreceptor cell, Visual system, Retinitis pigmentosa, Macular degeneration, Rod cell


Applying uniform electric field (EF) in vitro in the physiological range has been achieved in rectangular shaped microchannels. However, in a circular-shaped device, it is difficult to create uniform EF from two electric potentials due to different electrical resistances originated from the length difference between the diameter of the circle and the length of any parallel chord of the bottom circular chamber where cells are cultured. To address this challenge, we develop a three-dimensional (3D) computer-aided designed (CAD) polymeric insert to create uniform EF in circular shaped multi-well culture plates. A uniform EF with a coefficient of variation (CV) of 1.2% in the 6-well plate can be generated with an effective stimulation area percentage of 69.5%. In particular, NIH/3T3 mouse embryonic fibroblast cells are used to validate the performance of the 3D designed Poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA) inserts in a circular-shaped 6-well plate. The CAD based inserts can be easily scaled up (i.e., 100 mm dishes) to further increase effective stimulation area percentages, and also be implemented in commercially available cultureware for a wide variety of EF-related research such as EF-cell interaction and tissue regeneration studies.

Concepts: DNA, Electric potential, Extracellular matrix, Fibroblast, Cellular differentiation, Circle, Electrical resistance, Insert


Transcranial electric stimulation aims to stimulate the brain by applying weak electrical currents at the scalp. However, the magnitude and spatial distribution of electric fields in the human brain are unknown. We measured electric potentials intracranially in ten epilepsy patients and estimate electric fields across the entire brain by leveraging calibrated current-flow models. When stimulating at 2 mA, cortical electric fields reach 0.4 V/m, the lower limit of effectiveness in animal studies. When individual whole-head anatomy is considered, the predicted electric field magnitudes correlate with the recorded values in cortical (r=0.89) and depth (r=0.84) electrodes. Accurate models require adjustment of tissue conductivity values reported in the literature, but accuracy is not improved when incorporating white matter anisotropy or different skull compartments. This is the first study to validate and calibrate current-flow models with in vivo intracranial recordings in humans, providing a solid foundation to target stimulation and interpret clinical trials.

Concepts: Nervous system, Neuroanatomy, Brain, Electric potential, Measurement, Human brain, Cerebral cortex, Cerebellum