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Journal: Advanced science (Weinheim, Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany)


Pressure (P), temperature (T), and humidity (H) are physical key parameters of great relevance for various applications such as in distributed diagnostics, robotics, electronic skins, functional clothing, and many other Internet-of-Things (IoT) solutions. Previous studies on monitoring and recording these three parameters have focused on the integration of three individual single-parameter sensors into an electronic circuit, also comprising dedicated sense amplifiers, signal processing, and communication interfaces. To limit complexity in, e.g., multifunctional IoT systems, and thus reducing the manufacturing costs of such sensing/communication outposts, it is desirable to achieve one single-sensor device that simultaneously or consecutively measures P-T-H without cross-talks in the sensing functionality. Herein, a novel organic mixed ion-electron conducting aerogel is reported, which can sense P-T-H with minimal cross-talk between the measured parameters. The exclusive read-out of the three individual parameters is performed electronically in one single device configuration and is enabled by the use of a novel strategy that combines electronic and ionic Seebeck effect along with mixed ion-electron conduction in an elastic aerogel. The findings promise for multipurpose IoT technology with reduced complexity and production costs, features that are highly anticipated in distributed diagnostics, monitoring, safety, and security applications.


Clean operating margins in breast cancer surgery are important for preventing recurrence. However, the current methods for determining margins such as intraoperative frozen section analysis or imprint cytology are not satisfactory since they are time-consuming and cause a burden on the patient and on hospitals with a limited accuracy. A “click-to-sense” probe is developed based on the detection of acrolein, which is a substance released by oxidatively stressed cancer cells and can be visualized under fluorescence microscopy. Using live breast tissues resected from breast cancer patients, it is demonstrated that this method can quickly, selectively, and sensitively differentiate cancer lesion from normal breast gland or benign proliferative lesions. Since acrolein is accumulated in all types of cancers, this method could be used to quickly assess the surgical margins in other types of cancer.


The ability to remote control the expression of therapeutic genes in mammalian cells in order to treat disease is a central goal of synthetic biology-inspired therapeutic strategies. Furthermore, optogenetics, a combination of light and genetic sciences, provides an unprecedented ability to use light for precise control of various cellular activities with high spatiotemporal resolution. Recent work to combine optogenetics and therapeutic synthetic biology has led to the engineering of light-controllable designer cells, whose behavior can be regulated precisely and noninvasively. This Review focuses mainly on non-neural optogenetic systems, which are often used in synthetic biology, and their applications in genetic programing of mammalian cells. Here, a brief overview of the optogenetic tool kit that is available to build light-sensitive mammalian cells is provided. Then, recently developed strategies for the control of designer cells with specific biological functions are summarized. Recent translational applications of optogenetically engineered cells are also highlighted, ranging from in vitro basic research to in vivo light-controlled gene therapy. Finally, current bottlenecks, possible solutions, and future prospects for optogenetics in synthetic biology are discussed.


Carbon-based metal-free catalysts for the hydrogen evolution reaction (HER) are essential for the development of a sustainable hydrogen society. Identification of the active sites in heterogeneous catalysis is key for the rational design of low-cost and efficient catalysts. Here, by fabricating holey graphene with chemically dopants, the atomic-level mechanism for accelerating HER by chemical dopants is unveiled, through elemental mapping with atomistic characterizations, scanning electrochemical cell microscopy (SECCM), and density functional theory (DFT) calculations. It is found that the synergetic effects of two important factors-edge structure of graphene and nitrogen/phosphorous codoping-enhance HER activity. SECCM evidences that graphene edges with chemical dopants are electrochemically very active. Indeed, DFT calculation suggests that the pyridinic nitrogen atom could be the catalytically active sites. The HER activity is enhanced due to phosphorus dopants, because phosphorus dopants promote the charge accumulations on the catalytically active nitrogen atoms. These findings pave a path for engineering the edge structure of graphene in graphene-based catalysts.


In this work, a class of metamaterials is proposed on the basis of ferromagnet/superconductor hybridization for applications in magnonics. These metamaterials comprise of a ferromagnetic magnon medium that is coupled inductively to a superconducting periodic microstructure. Spectroscopy of magnetization dynamics in such hybrid evidences formation of areas in the medium with alternating dispersions for spin wave propagation, which is the basic requirement for the development of metamaterials known as magnonic crystals. The spectrum allows for derivation of the impact of the superconducting structure on the dispersion: it takes place due to a diamagnetic response of superconductors on the external and stray magnetic fields. In addition, the spectrum displays a dependence on the superconducting critical state of the structure: the Meissner and the mixed states of a type II superconductor are distinguished. This dependence hints toward nonlinear response of hybrid metamaterials on the magnetic field. Investigation of the spin wave dispersion in hybrid metamaterials shows formation of allowed and forbidden bands for spin wave propagation. The band structures are governed by the geometry of spin wave propagation: in the backward volume geometry the band structure is conventional, while in the surface geometry the band structure is nonreciprocal and is formed by indirect band gaps.


Oxide glasses are one of the most important engineering and functional material families owing to their unique features, such as tailorable physical properties. However, at the same time intrinsic brittleness has been their main drawback, which severely restricts many applications. Despite much progress, a breakthrough in developing ultra-damage-resistant and ductile oxide glasses still needs to be made. Here, a critical advancement toward such oxide glasses is presented. In detail, a bulk oxide glass with a record-high crack resistance is obtained by subjecting a caesium aluminoborate glass to surface aging under humid conditions, enabling it to sustain sharp contact deformations under loads of ≈500 N without forming any strength-limiting cracks. This ultra-high crack resistance exceeds that of the annealed oxide glasses by more than one order of magnitude, making this glass micro-ductile. In addition, a remarkable indentation behavior, i.e., a time-dependent shrinkage of the indent cavity, is demonstrated. Based on structural analyses, a molecular-scale deformation model to account for both the ultra-high crack resistance and the time-dependent shrinkage in the studied glass is proposed.


Inverse photoconductivity (IPC) is a unique photoresponse behavior that exists in few photoconductors in which electrical conductivity decreases with irradiation, and has great potential applications in the development of photonic devices and nonvolatile memories with low power consumption. However, it is still challenging to design and achieve IPC in most materials of interest. In this study, pressure-driven photoconductivity is investigated in n-type WO3 nanocuboids functionalized with p-type CuO nanoparticles under visible illumination and an interesting pressure-induced IPC accompanying a structural phase transition is found. Native and structural distortion induced oxygen vacancies assist the charge carrier trapping and favor the persistent positive photoconductivity beyond 6.4 GPa. The change in photoconductivity is mainly related to a phase transition and the associated changes in the bandgap, the trapping of charge carriers, the WO6 octahedral distortion, and the electron-hole pair recombination process. A unique reversible transition from positive to inverse photoconductivity is observed during compression and decompression. The origin of the IPC is intimately connected to the depletion of the conduction channels by electron trapping and the chromic property of WO3. This synergistic rationale may afford a simple and powerful method to improve the optomechanical performance of any hybrid material.


An evolvable organic electrochemical transistor (OECT), operating in the hybrid accumulation-depletion mode is reported, which exhibits short-term and long-term memory functionalities. The transistor channel, formed by an electropolymerized conducting polymer, can be formed, modulated, and obliterated in situ and under operation. Enduring changes in channel conductance, analogous to long-term potentiation and depression, are attained by electropolymerization and electrochemical overoxidation of the channel material, respectively. Transient changes in channel conductance, analogous to short-term potentiation and depression, are accomplished by inducing nonequilibrium doping states within the transistor channel. By manipulating the input signal, the strength of the transistor response to a given stimulus can be modulated within a range that spans several orders of magnitude, producing behavior that is directly comparable to short- and long-term neuroplasticity. The evolvable transistor is further incorporated into a simple circuit that mimics classical conditioning. It is forecasted that OECTs that can be physically and electronically modulated under operation will bring about a new paradigm of machine learning based on evolvable organic electronics.


Bone marrow derived human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs) are a promising cell source for regenerative therapies; however, ex vivo expansion is often required to achieve clinically useful cells numbers. Recent results reveal that when MSCs are cultured in stiff microenvironments, their regenerative capacity can be altered in a manner that is dependent on time (e.g., a mechanical dosing analogous to a chemical one). It is hypothesized that epigenomic modifications are involved in storing these mechanical cues, regulating gene expression, and ultimately leading to a mechanical memory. Using hydrogels containing an allyl sulfide cross-linker and a radical-mediated addition-fragmentation chain transfer process, in situ softened hMSC-laden hydrogels at different time points are achieved and the effects of short-term and long-term mechanical dosing on epigenetic modifications in hMSCs are quantified. Results show that histone acetylation and chromatin organization adapt rapidly after softening and can be reversible or irreversible depending on time of exposure to stiff microenvironments. Furthermore, epigenetic modulators are differentially expressed depending on the culture history. Collectively, these experiments suggest that epigenetic remodeling can be persistent and might be a memory keeper.


Although interest and funding in nanotechnology for oncological applications is thriving, translating these novel therapeutics through the earliest stages of preclinical assessment remains challenging. Upon intravenous administration, nanomaterials interact with constituents of the blood inducing a wide range of associated immunotoxic effects. The literature on the immunological interactions of nanomaterials is vast and complicated. A small change in a particular characteristic of a nanomaterial (e.g., size, shape, or charge) can have a significant effect on its immunological profile in vivo, and poor selection of specific assays for establishing these undesirable effects can overlook this issue until the latest stages of preclinical assessment. This work describes the current literature on unintentional immunological effects associated with promising cancer nanomaterials (liposomes, dendrimers, mesoporous silica, iron oxide, gold, and quantum dots) and puts focus on what is missing in current preclinical evaluations. Opportunities for avoiding or limiting immunotoxicity through efficient preclinical assessment are discussed, with an emphasis placed on current regulatory views and requirements. Careful consideration of these issues will ensure a more efficient preclinical assessment of cancer nanomedicines, enabling a smoother clinical translation with less failures in the future.