Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Electromagnetic spectrum


Perchlorates have been identified on the surface of Mars. This has prompted speculation of what their influence would be on habitability. We show that when irradiated with a simulated Martian UV flux, perchlorates become bacteriocidal. At concentrations associated with Martian surface regolith, vegetative cells of Bacillus subtilis in Martian analogue environments lost viability within minutes. Two other components of the Martian surface, iron oxides and hydrogen peroxide, act in synergy with irradiated perchlorates to cause a 10.8-fold increase in cell death when compared to cells exposed to UV radiation after 60 seconds of exposure. These data show that the combined effects of at least three components of the Martian surface, activated by surface photochemistry, render the present-day surface more uninhabitable than previously thought, and demonstrate the low probability of survival of biological contaminants released from robotic and human exploration missions.

Concepts: DNA, Oxygen, Human, Ultraviolet, Sun, Hydrogen, Mars, Electromagnetic spectrum


Silicon photonics enables large-scale photonic-electronic integration by leveraging highly developed fabrication processes from the microelectronics industry. However, while a rich portfolio of devices has already been demonstrated on the silicon platform, on-chip light sources still remain a key challenge since the indirect bandgap of the material inhibits efficient photon emission and thus impedes lasing. Here we demonstrate a class of infrared lasers that can be fabricated on the silicon-on-insulator (SOI) integration platform. The lasers are based on the silicon-organic hybrid (SOH) integration concept and combine nanophotonic SOI waveguides with dye-doped organic cladding materials that provide optical gain. We demonstrate pulsed room-temperature lasing with on-chip peak output powers of up to 1.1 W at a wavelength of 1,310 nm. The SOH approach enables efficient mass-production of silicon photonic light sources emitting in the near infrared and offers the possibility of tuning the emission wavelength over a wide range by proper choice of dye materials and resonator geometry.

Concepts: Optics, Light, Electromagnetic radiation, Laser, Electromagnetic spectrum, Photonics, Silicon photonics, Silicon on insulator


Vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin is important for health. Those with fat malabsorption disorders malabsorb vitamin D and thus must rely on cutaneous production of vitamin D3. Vitamin D3 is generated secondary to exposure to ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation (whether from the sun or from an artificial source). Light emitting diodes (LEDs) have been developed to emit ultraviolet radiation. Little is known about the efficiency of UVB emitting LEDs tuned to different wavelengths for producing vitamin D3 in human skin. Ampoules containing 7-dehydrocholesterol were exposed to a LED that emitted a peak wavelength at 293, 295, 298 or 305 nm to determine their efficiency to produce previtamin D3. The 293 nm LED was best suited for evaluating its effectiveness for producing vitamin D in human skin due to the shorter exposure time. This LED was found to be 2.4 times more efficient in producing vitamin D3 in human skin than the sun in less than 1/60(th) the time. This has significant health implications for medical device development in the future that can be used for providing vitamin D supplementation to patients with fat malabsorption syndromes as well as patients with other metabolic abnormalities including patients with chronic kidney disease.

Concepts: Vitamin D, Ultraviolet, Sun, Electromagnetic spectrum, Sunlight, Sunscreen, Infrared, Black light


Terahertz (THz) technology has emerged for biomedical applications such as scanning, molecular spectroscopy, and medical imaging. Although a thorough assessment to predict potential concerns has to precede before practical utilization of THz source, the biological effect of THz radiation is not yet fully understood with scant related investigations. Here, we applied a femtosecond-terahertz (fs-THz) pulse to mouse skin to evaluate non-thermal effects of THz radiation. Analysis of the genome-wide expression profile in fs-THz-irradiated skin indicated that wound responses were predominantly mediated by transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-β) signaling pathways. We validated NFκB1- and Smad3/4-mediated transcriptional activation in fs-THz-irradiated skin by chromatin immunoprecipitation assay. Repeated fs-THz radiation delayed the closure of mouse skin punch wounds due to up-regulation of TGF-β. These findings suggest that fs-THz radiation initiate a wound-like signal in skin with increased expression of TGF-β and activation of its downstream target genes, which perturbs the wound healing process in vivo.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Wound healing, Healing, Electromagnetic spectrum, Wound, Infrared, Chronic wound


Mobile phone usage has become an integral part of our lives. However, the effects of the radiofrequency electromagnetic radiation (RF-EMR) emitted by these devices on biological systems and specifically the reproductive systems are currently under active debate. A fundamental hindrance to the current debate is that there is no clear mechanism of how such non-ionising radiation influences biological systems. Therefore, we explored the documented impacts of RF-EMR on the male reproductive system and considered any common observations that could provide insights on a potential mechanism. Among a total of 27 studies investigating the effects of RF-EMR on the male reproductive system, negative consequences of exposure were reported in 21. Within these 21 studies, 11 of the 15 that investigated sperm motility reported significant declines, 7 of 7 that measured the production of reactive oxygen species documented elevated levels and 4 of 5 studies that probed for DNA damage highlighted increased damage, due to RF-EMR exposure. Associated with this, RF-EMR treatment reduced antioxidant levels in 6 of 6 studies that studied this phenomenon, while consequences of RF-EMR were successfully ameliorated with the supplementation of antioxidants in all 3 studies that carried out these experiments. In light of this, we envisage a two-step mechanism whereby RF-EMR is able to induce mitochondrial dysfunction leading to elevated ROS production. A continued focus on research which aims to shed light on the biological effects of RF-EMR will allow us to test and assess this proposed mechanism in a variety of cell types.

Concepts: Reproduction, Mitochondrion, Antioxidant, Electromagnetic radiation, Reactive oxygen species, Electromagnetic spectrum, Mobile phone, Radio


Ionizing radiation is a universal tool in tumor therapy but may also cause secondary cancers or cell invasiveness. These negative side effects could be causally related to the human-intermediate-conductance Ca(2+)-activated-K(+)-channel (hIK), which is activated by X-ray irradiation and affects cell proliferation and migration. To analyze the signaling cascade downstream of ionizing radiation we use genetically encoded reporters for H2O2 (HyPer) and for the dominant redox-buffer glutathione (Grx1-roGFP2) to monitor with high spatial and temporal resolution, radiation-triggered excursions of H2O2 in A549 and HEK293 cells. The data show that challenging cells with ≥1 Gy X-rays or with UV-A laser micro-irradiation causes a rapid rise of H2O2 in the nucleus and in the cytosol. This rise, which is determined by the rate of H2O2 production and glutathione-buffering, is sufficient for triggering a signaling cascade that involves an elevation of cytosolic Ca(2+) and eventually an activation of hIK channels.

Concepts: DNA, Cell nucleus, Cancer, Ionizing radiation, X-ray, Cytosol, Cytoplasm, Electromagnetic spectrum


Diffraction is the ultimate limit at which details of objects can be resolved in conventional optical spectroscopy and imaging systems. In the THz spectral range, spectroscopy systems increasingly rely on ultra-broadband radiation (extending over more 5 octaves) making a great challenge to reach resolution limited by diffraction. Here, we propose an original easy-to-implement wavefront manipulation concept to achieve ultrabroadband THz spectroscopy system with diffraction-limited resolution. Applying this concept to a large-area photoconductive emitter, we demonstrate diffraction-limited ultra-broadband spectroscopy system up to 14.5 THz with a dynamic range of 10(3). The strong focusing of ultrabroadband THz radiation provided by our approach is essential for investigating single micrometer-scale objects such as graphene flakes or living cells, and besides for achieving intense ultra-broadband THz electric fields.

Concepts: Spectroscopy, Diffraction, Optics, Laser, Electromagnetic spectrum, Infrared, Terahertz technology, Terahertz spectroscopy


We numerically investigate terahertz (THz) pulse generation by linearly-polarized, two-color femtosecond laser pulses in highly-ionized argon. Major processes consist of tunneling photoionization and ponderomotive forces associated with transverse and longitudinal field excitations. By means of two-dimensional particle-in-cell (PIC) simulations, we reveal the importance of photocurrent mechanisms besides transverse and longitudinal plasma waves for laser intensities >10(15) W/cm(2). We demonstrate the following. (i) With two-color pulses, photoionization prevails in the generation of GV/m THz fields up to 10(17) W/cm(2) laser intensities and suddenly loses efficiency near the relativistic threshold, as the outermost electron shell of ionized Ar atoms has been fully depleted. (ii) PIC results can be explained by a one-dimensional Maxwell-fluid model and its semi-analytical solutions, offering the first unified description of the main THz sources created in plasmas. (iii) The THz power emitted outside the plasma channel mostly originates from the transverse currents.

Concepts: Electron, Laser, Electromagnetic spectrum, Plasma, Infrared, Microwave, Terahertz radiation, Free electron laser


Wireless local area network (WLAN) is a technology that combines computer network with wireless communication technology. The 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz frequency bands in the Industrial Scientific Medical (ISM) band can be used in the WLAN environment. Because of the development of wireless communication technology and the use of the frequency bands without the need for authorization, the application of WLAN is becoming more and more extensive. As the key part of the WLAN system, the antenna must also be adapted to the development of WLAN communication technology. This paper designs two new dual-frequency microstrip antennas with the use of electromagnetic simulation software-High Frequency Structure Simulator (HFSS). The two antennas adopt ordinary FR4 material as a dielectric substrate, with the advantages of low cost and small size. The first antenna adopts microstrip line feeding, and the antenna radiation patch is composed of a folded T-shaped radiating dipole which reduces the antenna size, and two symmetrical rectangular patches located on both sides of the T-shaped radiating patch. The second antenna is a microstrip patch antenna fed by coaxial line, and the size of the antenna is diminished by opening a stepped groove on the two edges of the patch and a folded slot inside the patch. Simulation experiments prove that the two designed antennas have a higher gain and a favourable transmission characteristic in the working frequency range, which is in accordance with the requirements of WLAN communication.

Concepts: Electromagnetic radiation, Electromagnetic spectrum, Computer network, Radio, Radio frequency antenna types, Patch antenna, IEEE 802.11, Microstrip antenna


Broadband modulation of terahertz (THz) light is experimentally realized through the electrically driven metal-insulator phase transition of vanadium dioxide (VO2) in hybrid metal antenna-VO2 devices. The devices consist of VO2 active layers and bowtie antenna arrays, such that the electrically driven phase transition can be realized by applying an external voltage between adjacent metal wires extended to a large area array. The modulation depth of the terahertz light can be initially enhanced by the metal wires on top of VO2 and then improved through the addition of specific bowties in between the wires. As a result, a terahertz wave with a large beam size (~10 mm) can be modulated within the measurable spectral range (0.3-2.5 THz) with a frequency independent modulation depth as high as 0.9, and the minimum amplitude transmission down to 0.06. Moreover, the electrical switch on/off phase transition depends very much on the size of the VO2 area, indicating that smaller VO2 regions lead to higher modulation speeds and lower phase transition voltages. With the capabilities in actively tuning the beam size, modulation depth, modulation bandwidth as well as the modulation speed of THz waves, our study paves the way in implementing multifunctional components for terahertz applications.

Concepts: Electromagnetic spectrum, Hertz, Infrared, Microwave, Terahertz radiation, Backward wave oscillator