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Open access in physics from SpringerOpen

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Our physics journals cover areas of physics from high energy physics; atoms, plasmas, and particles; to optics and photonics; and computational cosmology and astrophysics. Toward the more applied side of physics, you’ll find our nanoscience journals, and journals that, while grounded in physics, take a multidisciplinary, “convergence” approach to large problems. 

CERN sponsoring APCs for methods articles in EPJ TECHNIQUES AND INSTRUMENTATION

New Content ItemEarlier this year, CERN expanded its open access mandate to the researchers it funds to include methods articles. As a result, CERN will sponsor article-processing charges for CERN-funded researchers’ methods articles in EPJ Techniques & Instrumentation.

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Selected articles

A novel model of third phase inclusions on two phase boundaries
by Andrew A. Prudil and Michael J. Welland


Image from Materials Theory © The AuthorsA new computationally efficient model of an included phase located at the interface between two other phases is developed by projecting the boundaries of the inclusion onto the boundary between the two other phases. This reduces the 3D problem to one on a 2D surface while still being embedded in 3D space, which significantly reduces computational expense of solving the system. The resulting model is similar to conventional phase-field models. The properties of the solution are examined, compared to classical theory, and the numerical behaviour, including a mesh sensitivity analysis, are discussed. The model accurately captures mesoscale effects, such as the Gibbs-Thompson effect, coarsening, and coalescence. An example application of the model simulating the evolution of grain boundary porosity in nuclear fuel is shown on a representative tetrakaidecahedron-shaped fuel grain.

Materials Theory

CubeSat quantum communications mission
by Daniel KL Oi, Alex Ling, Giuseppe Vallone, Paol Villoresi, Steve Greenland, Emma Kerr, Malcolm Macdonald, Harald Weinfurter, Hans Kuiper, Edorado Chabon, and Robert Ursin

Quantum communication is a prime space technology application and offers near-term possibilities for long-distance quantum key distribution (QKD) and experimental tests of quantum entanglement. However, there exists considerable developmental risks and subsequent costs and time required to raise the technological readiness level of terrestrial quantum technologies and to adapt them for space operations. The small-space revolution is a promising route by which synergistic advances in miniaturization of both satellite systems and quantum technologies can be combined to leap-frog conventional space systems development. Here, we outline a recent proposal to perform orbit-to-ground transmission of entanglement and QKD using a CubeSat platform deployed from the International Space Station (ISS). This ambitious mission exploits advances in nanosatellite attitude determination and control systems (ADCS), miniaturised target acquisition and tracking sensors, compact and robust sources of single and entangled photons, and high-speed classical communications systems, all to be incorporated within a 10 kg 6 litre mass-volume envelope. The CubeSat Quantum Communications Mission (CQuCoM) would be a pathfinder for advanced nanosatellite payloads and operations, and would establish the basis for a constellation of low-Earth orbit trusted-nodes for QKD service provision.

EPJ Quantum Technology

Electrochemical and optical biosensors for early-stage cancer diagnosis by using graphene and graphene oxide
by Aditya Balaji and Jin Zhang

Conventional instruments for cancer diagnosis including magnetic resonance imaging, computed tomography scan, are expensive and require long-waiting time, whilst the outcomes have not approached to the successful early-stage diagnosis yet. Due to the special properties of graphene-based nanocomposites, e.g., good electrical and thermal conductivity, luminescence, and mechanic flexibility, these ultra-thin two-dimensional nanostructures have been extensively used as platforms for detecting biomolecules and cells. Herein, we discuss the development of two types of graphene and graphene oxide-based biosensors: electrochemical and optical, aimed for tumor detection and early diagnosis of cancer. Moreover, we highlight the challenges of their use as biosensors for cancer detection. Efficient surface modification and suitable bio-conjugation of graphene and graphene oxide is discussed, including key role in improvement of the biocompatibility, and improved performance in terms of selectivity and sensitivity towards the early diagnosis of cancer.

​​​​​​​Cancer Nanotechnology

Study of Nanoscale Friction Behaviors of Graphene on Gold Substrates Using Molecular Dynamic​​​​​​​s​​​​​​​
by Pengzhe Zhu and Rui Li
Image from Nanoscale Research LettersIn this paper, we investigate the friction behaviors of graphene flakes sliding on a gold substrate using molecular dynamics simulations. The effects of flake size, flake shape, relative rotation angle between flake and substrate, and crystal orientation of substrate on the friction process are thoroughly studied. It is found that under the same load, the average friction forces per atom are smaller for a bigger graphene flake, which exhibits an obvious size effect. It is also shown that flake shape is critical in determining the friction in the sliding process. The average friction forces per atom for the square flake are much bigger than those for the triangular and round flakes. Moreover, the average friction forces per atom for the triangular flake are the smallest. We also find that the orientation of graphene flake relative to gold substrate plays a vital role in the friction process. The friction forces for the graphene flake sliding along the armchair direction are much bigger than those for the flakes with rotation. In addition, it is also found that single crystalline gold substrate exhibits a significant anisotropic effect of friction, which is attributed to the anisotropic effect of potential energy corrugation. These understandings not only shed light on the underlying mechanisms of graphene flake sliding on the gold substrates but also may guide the design and fabrication of nanoscale graphene-based devices.
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Nanoscale Research Letters

Distinguishing mechanisms underlying EMT tristability
by Dongya Jia, Mohit Kumar Jolly, Satyendra C. Tripathi, Petra Den Hollander, Bin Huang, Mingyang Lu, Muge Celiktas, Esmeralda Ramirez-Peña, Eshel Ben-Jacob, José N. Onuchic, Samir M. Hanash, Sendurai A. Mani, and Herbert Levine


Image from Cancer Convergence © The AuthorsBackground
The Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition (EMT) endows epithelial-looking cells with enhanced migratory ability during embryonic development and tissue repair. EMT can also be co-opted by cancer cells to acquire metastatic potential and drug-resistance. Recent research has argued that epithelial (E) cells can undergo either a partial EMT to attain a hybrid epithelial/mesenchymal (E/M) phenotype that typically displays collective migration, or a complete EMT to adopt a mesenchymal (M) phenotype that shows individual migration. The core EMT regulatory network—miR-34/SNAIL/miR-200/ZEB1—has been identified by various studies, but how this network regulates the transitions among the E, E/M, and M phenotypes remains controversial. Two major mathematical models—ternary chimera switch (TCS) and cascading bistable switches (CBS)—that both focus on the miR-34/SNAIL/miR-200/ZEB1 network, have been proposed to elucidate the EMT dynamics, but a detailed analysis of how well either or both of these two models can capture recent experimental observations about EMT dynamics remains to be done.

Here, via an integrated experimental and theoretical approach, we first show that both these two models can be used to understand the two-step transition of EMT—E→E/M→M, the different responses of SNAIL and ZEB1 to exogenous TGF-β and the irreversibility of complete EMT. Next, we present new experimental results that tend to discriminate between these two models. We show that ZEB1 is present at intermediate levels in the hybrid E/M H1975 cells, and that in HMLE cells, overexpression of SNAIL is not sufficient to initiate EMT in the absence of ZEB1 and FOXC2.

These experimental results argue in favor of the TCS model proposing that miR-200/ZEB1 behaves as a three-way decision-making switch enabling transitions among the E, hybrid E/M and M phenotypes.

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Cancer Convergence

A non-rigid registration method for the analysis of local deformations in the wood cell wall
by Alessandra Patera, Stephen Carl, Marco Stampanoni, Dominique Derome, and Jan Charmellet

Image from Advanced Structural and Chemical Imaging © Authors​​​​​​​This paper concerns the problem of wood cellular structure image registration. Given the large variability of wood geometry and the important changes in the cellular organization due to moisture sorption, an affine-based image registration technique is not exhaustive to describe the overall hygro-mechanical behaviour of wood at micrometre scales. Additionally, free tools currently available for non-rigid image registration are not suitable for quantifying the structural deformations of complex hierarchical materials such as wood, leading to errors due to misalignment. In this paper, we adapt an existing non-rigid registration model based on B-spline functions to our case study. The so-modified algorithm combines the concept of feature recognition within specific regions locally distributed in the material with an optimization problem. Results show that the method is able to quantify local deformations induced by moisture changes in tomographic images of wood cell wall with high accuracy. The local deformations provide new important insights in characterizing the swelling behaviour of wood at the cell wall level.
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Advanced Structural and Chemical Imaging

Call for Papers

New Content ItemMachine learning to advance our understanding of the universe​​​​​​​

Journal: Computational Astrophysics and Cosmology
Guest Editors: Stella Offner, Wojtek Kowalczyk, Peter Teuben, and Simon Portegies Zwart
Submission Deadline: September 1, 2018
New Content ItemNetwork Medicine in the era of Big Data in Science and Healthcare​

Journal: Applied Network Science
Lead Guest Editor: Amitabh Sharma
Submission Deadline: March 31, 2018
New Content ItemSpace applications of quantum technology

JournalEPJ Quantum Technology
Lead Guest Editor: Dr. Rainer Kaltenbaek, Vienna Center for Quantum Science and Technology
New Content Item​​​​​​Novel plasma diagnostics

JournalEPJ Techniques and Instrumentation
Lead Guest Editor: Dr. Thomas Trottenberg, ​​​​​​​Institut für Experimentelle und Angewandte Physik, AG PlasmaPhysik / PlasmaTechnologie

Our Interview Partners

New Content ItemKrasten Blagoev

Co-Editor-in-Chief of Cancer Convergence

Open access allows worldwide communication between researchers and the public and I believe is part of the democratization of science.

​​​​​​​New Content ItemFred J. Currell and Stephen Curley

Editors-in-Chief of Cancer Nanotechnology


We are convinced that through nanotechnology-based investigations involving basic underpinning principles from physics and chemistry we have an opportunity to enhance our understanding of malignant diseases.

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