News / Highlights / Colloquium
- Published on 02 December 2014
Understanding how a desert beetle harvests water from dew could help to improve drinking water collection in dew condensers mimicking the nanostructure of the beetle’s back
Insects are full of marvels—and this is certainly the case with a beetle from the Tenebrionind family, found in the extreme conditions of the Namib desert. Now, a team of scientists has demonstrated that such insects can collect dew on their backs—and not just fog as previously thought. This is made possible by the wax nanostructure on the surface of the beetle’s elytra. These findings by José Guadarrama-Cetina, then working at ESPCI ParisTech, France—on leave from the University of Navarra, in Spain—and colleagues were recently published in EPJ E. They bring us a step closer to harvesting dew to make drinking water from the humidity in the air. This, the team hopes, can be done by improving the water yield of man-made dew condensers that mimick the nanostructure on the beetle’s back.
- Published on 28 October 2014
New systematic study of the electrical properties of model lipid membranes could improve our understanding of biological cells and opens new possibilities for medical diagnostics
Biological membranes are mainly composed of lipid bilayers. Gaining a better understanding of adsorption of solution ions onto lipid membranes helps clarify functional processes in biological cells. Now, a new study provides a quantitative description of the equilibria between lipid membranes and surrounding solution ions. Joanna Kotyńska and Zbigniew Figaszewski from the University of Bialystok, Poland, are the authors of a study describing these findings, just published in EPJ E. In addition to shedding some light on biological processes, these results could also have implications for, among other things, the future development of medical diagnostics.
- Published on 20 October 2014
Zero gravity experiments on the International Space Station shed some light on thermodiffusion effects, relevant to the oil and gas industry and global warming prevention processes
Thermodiffusion, also called the Soret effect, is a mechanism by which an imposed temperature difference establishes a concentration difference within a mixture. Two studies by Belgian scientists from the Free University of Brussels, recently published in EPJ E, provide a better understanding of such effects. They build on recent experimental results from the IVIDIL—Influence Vibration on Diffusion in Liquids—research project performed on the International Space Station under microgravity to avoid motion in the liquids.
- Published on 22 July 2014
A new study investigates the effects of small but finite inertia on the propulsion of micro and nano-scale swimming machines that could have implications for biomedical applications
Scale plays a major role in locomotion. Swimming microorganisms, such as bacteria and spermatozoa, are subjected to relatively small inertial forces compared to the viscous forces exerted by the surrounding fluid. Such low-level inertia makes self-propulsion a major challenge. Now, scientists have found that the direction of propulsion made possible by such inertia is opposite to that induced by a viscoelastic fluid. These findings have been published in EPJ E by François Nadal from the Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA), in Le Barp, France, and colleagues. This study could help optimise the design of self-propelled micro- and nanoscale artificial swimming machines to improve their mobility in medical applications.
- Published on 07 July 2014
A new study accounts for species interactions, and adds a layer of complexity to previous minimalists models
Models for the evolution of life are now being developed to try and clarify the long-term dynamics of an evolving system of species. Specifically, a recent model proposed by Petri Kärenlampi from the University of Eastern Finland in Joensuu accounts for species interactions with various degrees of symmetry, connectivity, and species abundance. This is an improvement on previous, simpler models, which apply random fitness levels to species. The findings published in EPJ E demonstrate that the resulting replicator ecosystems do not appear to be a self-organised critical model, unlike the so-called Bak-Sneppen model; a reference in the field. The reasons for this discrepancy are not yet known.
- Published on 23 June 2014
The journal EPJE – Soft Matter and Biological Physics is pleased to honour Ludwik Leibler with the 2014 EPJE Pierre-Gilles De Gennes Lecture prize. Leibler is researcher at CNRS and Adjunct Professor at ESPCI ParisTech where he directs the Laboratory for Soft Matter and Chemistry. The Editors of the journal nominated him for his seminal contributions to polymer physics and the revolutionary polymeric materials, self-healing elastomers and vitrimers that he invented. This is the 4th edition of this prestigious prize, named after the Nobel laureate who founded EPJE. The prize consist of 1000 Euros and a plenary lecture that will be introduced by Daan Frenkel, co-Editor-in-Chief of EPJE. The EPJE Pierre-Gilles de Gennes lecture will be delivered July 22nd in Lisbon, during the 9th Liquid Matter conference of the European Physical Society.
- Published on 07 June 2014
Separating particles from the liquid they are in can now be done with a new concept, based on horizontal deflection during particle levitation for the separation of minerals and particles.
Magnetic separators exploit the difference in magnetic properties between minerals, for example when separating magnetite from quartz. But this exercise becomes considerably more complex when the particles are not magnetic. In the wake of previous particle levitation experiments under high-power magnetic fields, a new study reveals that particles are deflected away from the magnet’s round-shaped bore centre in a horizontal direction. Previous studies had observed the vertical levitation of the particles. These findings are presented by Shixiao Liu from the Faculty of Engineering, University of Nottingham, UK and colleagues, in a paper recently published in EPJ E, and could led to a new concept in particles and minerals separation technologies.
- Published on 28 May 2014
A new study investigates the role of cells’ alignment in shaping biological tissue, as cell division provides dynamic evolution during tissue growth.
A team of European scientists has now extended a previous biophysical model to investigate elongated growth within biological tissues to describing the evolution over time of the shape of a fruit fly’s wing. They found the aspect ratio of the typical biological shapes may exhibit a maximum at finite time and then decrease. For sufficiently large tissues, the shape is expected to approach that of a disk or sphere. These findings have been reported by Carles Blanch-Mercader from the University of Barcelona, Spain, and colleagues, in a paper published in EPJ E. They provide a more general classification than previously available of the different types of morphologies a tissue can be expected to attain, depending on its initial size and its physical properties.
- Published on 29 April 2014
A new model accounting for the loss of stability occurring at the very start of supernova explosions sheds some new light on this phenomenon, opening up potential broader applications
Exploding supernovae are a phenomenon that is still not fully understood. The trouble is that the state of nuclear matter in stars cannot be reproduced on Earth. In a recent paper published in EPJ E, Yves Pomeau from the University of Arizona, USA, and his French colleagues from the CNRS provide a new model of supernovae represented as dynamical systems subject to a loss of stability, just before they explode. Because similar stability losses also occur in dynamical systems in nature, this model could be used to predict natural catastrophes before they happen. Previous studies of the creeping of soft solids, earthquakes, and sleep-wake transitions have already confirmed the validity of this approach.
- Published on 07 April 2014
This month EPJE welcomes Andreas Bausch, who takes over from Frank Jülicher, as Editor in Chief for biological physics in EPJ E – Soft Matter and Biological Physics. In his lab, Bausch applies new experimental tools of soft condensed matter physics to living cells and bio-mimetic model systems. This is his vision for biological physics within EPJE in the years to come: