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

Concept: Oxide


Beam profiles are commonly measured with complementary metal oxide semiconductors (CMOS) or charge coupled devices (CCD). The devices are fast and reliable but expensive. By making use of the fact that the Bayer-filter in commercial webcams is transparent in the near infra-red (>800 nm) and their CCD chips are sensitive up to about 1100 nm, we demonstrate a cheap and simple way to measure laser beam profiles with a resolution down to around ±1 μm, which is close to the resolution of the knife-edge technique.

Concepts: Electron, Light, Laser, Oxide, CMOS, Infrared, Light beam, Laser beam profiler


Resistive random access memory based on the resistive switching phenomenon is emerging as a strong candidate for next generation non-volatile memory. So far, the resistive switching effect has been observed in many transition metal oxides, including strongly correlated ones, such as, cuprate superconductors, colossal magnetoresistant manganites and Mott insulators. However, up to now, no clear evidence of the possible relevance of strong correlation effects in the mechanism of resistive switching has been reported. Here, we study Pr0.7Ca0.3MnO3, which shows bipolar resistive switching. Performing micro-spectroscopic studies on its bare surface we are able to track the systematic electronic structure changes in both, the low and high resistance state. We find that a large change in the electronic conductance is due to field-induced oxygen vacancies, which drives a Mott metal-insulator transition at the surface. Our study demonstrates that strong correlation effects may be incorporated to the realm of the emerging oxide electronics.

Concepts: Oxygen, Oxide, Valence electron, Correlation and dependence, Superconductivity, Electrical resistance, Computer data storage, High-temperature superconductivity


The increasing applicability of antifungal treatments, the limited range of available drug classes and the emergence of drug resistance in Candida spp. suggest the need for new treatment options. To explore the applicability of C. albicans photoinactivation, we examined nine structurally different imidazoacridinone derivatives as photosensitizing agents. The most effective derivatives showed a >104-fold reduction of viable cell numbers. The fungicidal action of the three most active compounds was compared at different radiant powers(3.5 to 63 mW/cm2), and this analysis indicated that 7 mW/cm2 was the most efficient. The intracellular accumulation of these compounds in fungal cells correlated with the fungicidal activity of all 9 derivatives. The lack of effect of verapamil, an inhibitor targeting Candida ABC efflux pumps, suggests that these imidazoacridinones are not substrates for ABC transporters. Thus, unlike azoles, a major class of antifungals used against Candida, ABC transporter-mediated resistance is unlikely. Electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR)-spin trapping data suggested that the fungicidal light-induced action of these derivatives might depend on the production of superoxide anion. The highest generation rate of superoxide anion was observed for 1330H, 1610H, and 1611. Singlet oxygen production was also detected upon the irradiation of imidazoacridinone derivatives with UV laser light, with a low to moderate yield, depending on the type of compound. Thus, imidazoacridinone derivatives examined in the present study might act via mixed type I/type II photodynamic mechanism. The presented data indicate lack of direct correlation between the structures of studied imidazoacridinones, cell killing ability, and ROS production. However, we showed for the first time that for imidazoacridinones not only intracellular accumulation is necessary prerequisite of lethal photosensitization of C. albicans, but also localization within particular cellular structures. Our findings present IA derivatives as efficient antifungal photosensitizers with a potential to be used in local treatment of Candida infection.

Concepts: Oxygen, Fungus, Reactive oxygen species, Superoxide dismutase, Oxide, Candida albicans, Candidiasis


The Mg-Si-O system is the major Earth and rocky planet-forming system. Here, through quantum variable-composition evolutionary structure explorations, we have discovered several unexpected stable binary and ternary compounds in the Mg-Si-O system. Besides the well-known SiO2 phases, we have found two extraordinary silicon oxides, SiO3 and SiO, which become stable at pressures above 0.51 TPa and 1.89 TPa, respectively. In the Mg-O system, we have found one new compound, MgO3, which becomes stable at 0.89 TPa. We find that not only the (MgO)x·(SiO2)y compounds, but also two (MgO3)x·(SiO3)y compounds, MgSi3O12 and MgSiO6, have stability fields above 2.41 TPa and 2.95 TPa, respectively. The highly oxidized MgSi3O12 can form in deep mantles of mega-Earths with masses above 20 M⊕ (M⊕:Earth’s mass). Furthermore, the dissociation pathways of pPv-MgSiO3 are also clarified, and found to be different at low and high temperatures. The low-temperature pathway is MgSiO3 ⇒ Mg2SiO4 + MgSi2O5 ⇒ SiO2 + Mg2SiO4 ⇒ MgO + SiO2, while the high-temperature pathway is MgSiO3 ⇒ Mg2SiO4 + MgSi2O5 ⇒ MgO + MgSi2O5 ⇒ MgO + SiO2. Present results are relevant for models of the internal structure of giant exoplanets, and for understanding the high-pressure behavior of materials.

Concepts: Oxygen, Oxide, Silicon, Chemical compound, Oxides, Silicon dioxide, Centrifugation, Extrasolar planet


Research into environmental factors associated with suicide has historically focused on meteorological variables. Recently, a heightened risk of suicide related to short-term exposure to airborne particulate matter was reported. Here, we examined the associations between short-term exposure to nitrogen dioxide, particulate matter, and sulfur dioxide and completed suicide in Salt Lake County, Utah (n = 1,546) from 2000 to 2010. We used a time-stratified case-crossover design to estimate adjusted odds ratios for the relationship between suicide and exposure to air pollutants on the day of the suicide and during the days preceding the suicide. We observed maximum heightened odds of suicide associated with interquartile-range increases in nitrogen dioxide during cumulative lag 3 (average of the 3 days preceding suicide; odds ratio (OR) = 1.20, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.04, 1.39) and fine particulate matter (diameter ≤2.5 μm) on lag day 2 (day 2 before suicide; OR = 1.05, 95% CI: 1.01, 1.10). Following stratification by season, an increased suicide risk was associated with exposure to nitrogen dioxide during the spring/fall transition period (OR = 1.35, 95% CI: 1.09, 1.66) and fine particulate matter in the spring (OR = 1.28, 95% CI: 1.01, 1.61) during cumulative lag 3. Findings of positive associations between air pollution and suicide appear to be consistent across study locations with vastly different meteorological, geographical, and cultural characteristics.

Concepts: Oxide, United States Environmental Protection Agency, Particulate, Smog, Air pollution, Volcano, Dust, Acid rain


Lattice oxygen can play an intriguing role in electrochemical processes, not only maintaining structural stability, but also influencing electron and ion transport properties in high-capacity oxide cathode materials for Li-ion batteries. Here, we report the design of a gas-solid interface reaction to achieve delicate control of oxygen activity through uniformly creating oxygen vacancies without affecting structural integrity of Li-rich layered oxides. Theoretical calculations and experimental characterizations demonstrate that oxygen vacancies provide a favourable ionic diffusion environment in the bulk and significantly suppress gas release from the surface. The target material is achievable in delivering a discharge capacity as high as 301 mAh g(-1) with initial Coulombic efficiency of 93.2%. After 100 cycles, a reversible capacity of 300 mAh g(-1) still remains without any obvious decay in voltage. This study sheds light on the comprehensive design and control of oxygen activity in transition-metal-oxide systems for next-generation Li-ion batteries.

Concepts: Cathode, Oxygen, Oxide, Ion, Rechargeable battery, Lithium-ion battery, Lithium, Lithium-ion polymer battery


Following pioneering work, solution-processable organic-inorganic hybrid perovskites-such as CH3NH3PbX3 (X = Cl, Br, I)-have attracted attention as light-harvesting materials for mesoscopic solar cells. So far, the perovskite pigment has been deposited in a single step onto mesoporous metal oxide films using a mixture of PbX2 and CH3NH3X in a common solvent. However, the uncontrolled precipitation of the perovskite produces large morphological variations, resulting in a wide spread of photovoltaic performance in the resulting devices, which hampers the prospects for practical applications. Here we describe a sequential deposition method for the formation of the perovskite pigment within the porous metal oxide film. PbI2 is first introduced from solution into a nanoporous titanium dioxide film and subsequently transformed into the perovskite by exposing it to a solution of CH3NH3I. We find that the conversion occurs within the nanoporous host as soon as the two components come into contact, permitting much better control over the perovskite morphology than is possible with the previously employed route. Using this technique for the fabrication of solid-state mesoscopic solar cells greatly increases the reproducibility of their performance and allows us to achieve a power conversion efficiency of approximately 15 per cent (measured under standard AM1.5G test conditions on solar zenith angle, solar light intensity and cell temperature). This two-step method should provide new opportunities for the fabrication of solution-processed photovoltaic cells with unprecedented power conversion efficiencies and high stability equal to or even greater than those of today’s best thin-film photovoltaic devices.

Concepts: Oxygen, Oxide, Cadmium, Solar cell, Photovoltaics, Titanium dioxide, Energy conversion efficiency, Titanium


The iodide/triiodide redox shuttle has limited the efficiencies accessible in dye-sensitized solar cells. Here, we report mesoscopic solar cells that incorporate a Co((II/III))tris(bipyridyl)-based redox electrolyte in conjunction with a custom synthesized donor-π-bridge-acceptor zinc porphyrin dye as sensitizer (designated YD2-o-C8). The specific molecular design of YD2-o-C8 greatly retards the rate of interfacial back electron transfer from the conduction band of the nanocrystalline titanium dioxide film to the oxidized cobalt mediator, which enables attainment of strikingly high photovoltages approaching 1 volt. Because the YD2-o-C8 porphyrin harvests sunlight across the visible spectrum, large photocurrents are generated. Cosensitization of YD2-o-C8 with another organic dye further enhances the performance of the device, leading to a measured power conversion efficiency of 12.3% under simulated air mass 1.5 global sunlight.

Concepts: Ultraviolet, Redox, Electrochemistry, Oxide, Solar cell, Titanium dioxide, Energy conversion, Dye-sensitized solar cell


We propose a hypothesis that a very thin layer can be made more transparent by adding a thin coating with susceptibility of opposing sign. Two experimental tests backed by a theoretical model support this hypothesis. First, we show that the visible and near-infrared transmission through a semi-transparent silver film can be enhanced by up to ~70% and spectrally tailored depending on the type and thickness of the dielectric coating. Material types explored as dielectric coating layers include conventional metal oxides (titanium dioxide) and lesser-explored elemental semiconductors (undoped silicon, p-type silicon, and germanium). Second, and more surprisingly, we show that coating a 50-nm-thick silicon nitride membrane with a 10-nm-thick silver layer can modestly enhance the transmission by up to 6 ± 1% in the blue part of the spectrum. Transmission enhancements are observed for three silver-coated membranes in different configurations. Thinner silver coatings are theoretically capable of enhancement factors greater than 10%, but implementation is restricted by challenges in making smooth and continuous silver films below 10 nm in thickness. This study is important because it is the first demonstration of reciprocity with respect to the transmission enhancements achieved by combining thin metallic and dielectric layers.

Concepts: Oxygen, Metal, Oxide, Semiconductor, Silicon, Titanium dioxide, Germanium, Corrosion


Human activities have doubled the pre-industrial supply of reactive nitrogen on Earth, and future rates of increase are expected to accelerate. Yet little is known about the capacity of the biosphere to buffer increased nitrogen influx. Past changes in global ecosystems following deglaciation at the end of the Pleistocene epoch provide an opportunity to understand better how nitrogen cycling in the terrestrial biosphere responded to changes in carbon cycling. We analysed published records of stable nitrogen isotopic values (δ(15)N) in sediments from 86 lakes on six continents. Here we show that the value of sedimentary δ(15)N declined from 15,000 years before present to 7,056 ± 597 years before present, a period of increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations and terrestrial carbon accumulation. Comparison of the nitrogen isotope record with concomitant carbon accumulation on land and nitrous oxide in the atmosphere suggests millennia of declining nitrogen availability in terrestrial ecosystems during the Pleistocene-Holocene transition around 11,000 years before present. In contrast, we do not observe a consistent change in global sedimentary δ(15)N values during the past 500 years, despite the potential effects of changing temperature and nitrogen influx from anthropogenic sources. We propose that the lack of a single response may indicate that modern increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide and net carbon sequestration in the biosphere have the potential to offset recent increased supplies of reactive nitrogen in some ecosystems.

Concepts: Oxygen, Carbon dioxide, Earth, Nitrogen, Oxide, Quaternary, Nitrogen cycle, Holocene calendar