Presentation by E. Erdem, 4 October 2023

Schematic of a red blood cell in a focused optical beam. (Image by E. Erdem.)
Optical trapping of red blood cells and different geometrical shapes
Emir Erdem

Red Blood Cells (RBC), also known as erythrocyts, are essential cells that are present in the blood of every vertebrate. Because of their hemoglobin protein content, they carry oxygen to the cells and perform a vital function. Due to their complex shapes, behavior of cells like RBCs under optical forces are not fully been discovered. In this study, the behavior of RBCs as well as other shapes under optical trap are simulated using OTGO which is a numeric toolbox utilizing geometrical optics approximation for optical calculations. As a result of the simulations, it is observed that the RBC aligns itself in a vertical configuration, parallel to the incident beam propagating towards the cell from below. Conducted static analysis showed that it is possible to stably trap a RBC in all three dimensions. The center of the trap is near the edge of the cell, where the thickness is larger. After the analysis on RBC, how well different geometrical shapes can optically be trapped are investigated by integrating different shapes modeled by spherical harmonics to OTGO. A similar static analysis is conducted on a dumbbell shape and its trapping effectiveness is compared with an ellipsoid. A dumbbell shape can effectively be trapped in the horizontal plane similar to an ellipsoid, but in the light propagation direction, it is more challenging to trap the shape and it requires modifications on optical properties of the setup. The aim of this study after this point is to optimize the optical force calculations by training a neural network model and to apply flow conditions to cells.

Giovanni Volpe awarded the Faculty of Science’s 2023 Research Award

(Image adapted from here.)
Giovanni Volpe received the Faculty of Science’s 2023 Research Award for using methods from physics to look into complex and biological systems.

The Research Award of the Faculty of Science of the University of Gothenburg recognizes development of a research specialization that significantly contributes to novelty in the faculty’s research. The award recipient receives a diploma and a research grant of SEK 250,000. This year, the award ceremony will be held on 19 October.

A short interview with Giovanni Volpe regarding this achievement can be found at the link: Giovanni Volpe awarded the Faculty of Science’s 2023 Research Award.

Alfred Bergsten will defend his Master Thesis on 18 September 2023

Trajectory of a hexagonal cluster formed by a transparent particle (blu circle) and six light-absorbing particles (red circles) in a traveling sinusoidal optical pattern, in the absence of thermal noise. The direction of the motion of the optical pattern is given by the arrow. The trajectory’s duration is 30 s. (Image by A. Bergsten.)
Alfred Bergsten will defend his Master Thesis on 18 September 2023 at 17:00.

Title: Controlling Active Clusters Using Wave-Shaped Light Patterns

Colloidal systems appear in various contexts. In some of these systems, thermophoretic forces can arise around otherwise passive particles when they are illuminated, leading to the emergence of complex behaviours. These types of systems has been extensively studied under constant, uniform light where the emergent behaviours are simply activated and deactivated. The aim of this project is to show that the emergent behaviour can not only be activated and deactivated, but also controlled by employing more complex light patterns.
The model used in this project includes Brownian motion and thermophoretic forces, with collisions between particles being resolved by a volume exclusion method. The thermophoretic forces are activated by employing travelling wave light patterns to affect the behaviours of different clusters formed as a result of these forces. Two different patterns are then superimposed to show that more complex light patterns can induce more complex behaviours.
This study is mostly qualitative in nature and only conducted in simulations. While the parameter space has only been roughly explored and the study needs to be validated through physical experiments, the results of the project indicate that a more comprehensive exploration of the parameter space for a broader range of clusters can be of interest.

Supervisor: Agnese Callegari
Examiner: Giovanni Volpe
Opponent: Simon Carlson

Place: Nexus
Time: 18 September, 2023, 17:00

Talk by K. Porter (IOP Publishing), 6 September 2023

(Photo by G. Volpe.)
How to get published: a talk from IOP Publishing
Kate Porter
IOP Publishing

Do you want your article to stand out from the crowd, improving your chances of publication in this highly competitive industry? If so, you won’t want to miss this talk from Kate Porter, Senior Publisher from IOP Publishing! During this talk, Kate will provide you with a toolkit to help you navigate the world of academic publishing and share some top tips to help you get published.

Topics covered in this talk include:

  • Choosing the right journal for your research
  • Open access and transformative agreements
  • Publication ethics
  • Top tips for writing your article so it captures the interest of editors/reviewers
  • Peer review and responding to reviewers
  • Post-acceptance activities to promote your article

Date: 6 Sep 2023
Time: 12:30 PM
Location: PJ

Kate Porter in PJ salen. (Photo by G. Volpe.)
PhD students at the faculty of science attending the seminar. (Photo by G. Volpe.)

Age-related differences in the functional topography of the locus coeruleus and their implications for cognitive and affective functions published on eLife

Average functional gradients of the locus coeruleus in the CamCAN 3T dataset. (Image from the publication.)
Age-related differences in the functional topography of the locus coeruleus and their implications for cognitive and affective functions
Dániel Veréb, Mite Mijalkov, Anna Canal-Garcia, Yu-Wei Chang, Emiliano Gomez-Ruiz, Blanca Zufiria Gerboles, Miia Kivipelto, Per Svenningsson, Henrik Zetterberg, Giovanni Volpe, Matthew Betts, Heidi IL Jacobs, Joana B Pereira
eLife 12, RP87188 (2023)
doi: 10.7554/eLife.87188.3

The locus coeruleus (LC) is an important noradrenergic nucleus that has recently attracted a lot of attention because of its emerging role in cognitive and psychiatric disorders. Although previous histological studies have shown that the LC has heterogeneous connections and cellular features, no studies have yet assessed its functional topography in vivo, how this heterogeneity changes over aging, and whether it is associated with cognition and mood. Here, we employ a gradient-based approach to characterize the functional heterogeneity in the organization of the LC over aging using 3T resting-state fMRI in a population-based cohort aged from 18 to 88 years of age (Cambridge Centre for Ageing and Neuroscience cohort, n=618). We show that the LC exhibits a rostro-caudal functional gradient along its longitudinal axis, which was replicated in an independent dataset (Human Connectome Project [HCP] 7T dataset, n=184). Although the main rostro-caudal direction of this gradient was consistent across age groups, its spatial features varied with increasing age, emotional memory, and emotion regulation. More specifically, a loss of rostral-like connectivity, more clustered functional topography, and greater asymmetry between right and left LC gradients was associated with higher age and worse behavioral performance. Furthermore, participants with higher-than-normal Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS) ratings exhibited alterations in the gradient as well, which manifested in greater asymmetry. These results provide an in vivo account of how the functional topography of the LC changes over aging, and imply that spatial features of this organization are relevant markers of LC-related behavioral measures and psychopathology.

Presentation by H. Klein Moberg at SPIE-ETAI, San Diego, 23 August 2023

A convolutional neural network characterizes the properties of very small biomolecules without requiring prior detection. (Image by H. Klein Moberg.)
Deep learning for nanofluidic scattering microscopy
Henrik Klein Moberg
Date: 23 August 2023
Time: 8:15 AM PDT

We show that a custom ResNet-inspired CNN architecture trained on simulated biomolecule trajectories surpasses the performance of standard algorithms in terms of tracking and determining the molecular weight and hydrodynamic radius of biomolecules in the low-kDa regime in optical microscopy. We show that high accuracy and precision is retained even below the 10-kDa regime, constituting approximately an order of magnitude improvement in limit of detection compared to current state-of-the-art, enabling analysis of hitherto elusive species of biomolecules such as cytokines (~5-25 kDa) important for cancer research and the protein hormone insulin (~5.6 kDa), potentially opening up entirely new avenues of biological research.

Keynote presentation by G. Volpe at SPIE-MNM, San Diego, 23 August 2023

Active droploids. (Image taken from Nat. Commun. 12, 6005 (2021).)
Critical fluctuations and critical Casimir forces
Giovanni Volpe
Date: 23 August 2023
Time: 8:00 AM PDT

Critical Casimir forces (CCF) are a powerful tool to control the self-assembly and complex behavior of microscopic and nanoscopic colloids. While CCF were theoretically predicted in 1978, their first direct experimental evidence was provided only in 2008, using total internal reflection microscopy (TIRM). Since then, these forces have been investigated under various conditions, for example, by varying the properties of the involved surfaces or with moving boundaries. In addition, a number of studies of the phase behavior of colloidal dispersions in a critical mixture indicate critical Casimir forces as candidates for tuning the self-assembly of nanostructures and quantum dots, while analogous fluctuation-induced effects have been investigated, for example, at the percolation transition of a chemical sol, in the presence of temperature gradients, and even in granular fluids and active matter. In this presentation, I’ll give an overview of this field with a focus on recent results on the measurement of many-body forces in critical Casimir forces, the realization of micro- and nanoscopic engines powered by critical fluctuations, and the creation of light-controllable colloidal molecules and active droploids.

Presentation by A. Callegari at SPIE-MNM, San Diego, 23 August 2023

An illustration of microscopic gold flakes on surface. (Image by F. Schmidt.)
Tunable critical Casimir forces counteract Casimir–Lifshitz attraction
Falko Schmidt, Agnese Callegari, Abdallah Daddi-Moussa-Ider, Battulga Munkhbat, Ruggero Verre, Timur Shegai, Mikael Käll, Hartmut Löwen, Andrea Gambassi and Giovanni Volpe
SPIE-MNM, San Diego, CA, USA, 20 – 24 August 2023
Date: 23 August 2023

Casimir forces in quantum electrodynamics emerge between microscopic metallic objects because of the confinement of the vacuum electromagnetic fluctuations occurring even at zero temperature. Their generalization at finite temperature and in material media are referred to as Casimir–Lifshitz forces. These forces are typically attractive, leading to the widespread problem of stiction between the metallic parts of micro- and nanodevices. Recently, repulsive Casimir forces have been experimentally realized but their reliance on specialized materials prevents their dynamic control and thus limits their further applicability. Here, we experimentally demonstrate that repulsive critical Casimir forces, which emerge in a critical binary liquid mixture upon approaching the critical temperature, can be used to actively control microscopic and nanoscopic objects with nanometer precision. We demonstrate this by using critical Casimir forces to prevent the stiction caused by the Casimir–Lifshitz forces. We study a microscopic gold flake above a flat gold-coated substrate immersed in a critical mixture. Far from the critical temperature, stiction occurs because of dominant Casimir–Lifshitz forces. Upon approaching the critical temperature, we observe the emergence of repulsive critical Casimir forces that are sufficiently strong to counteract stiction. Our method provides a novel way of controlling the distances of micro- and nanostructures using tunable critical Casimir forces to counteract forces such as the Casimir–Lifshitz force, thereby preventing stiction and device failure. Due to the simplicity of our design the concept can be adapted to already existing MEMS and NEMS by, for example, controlling the temperature via light illumination.

Falko Schmidt, Agnese Callegari, Abdallah Daddi-Moussa-Ider, Battulga Munkhbat, Ruggero Verre, Timur Shegai, Mikael Käll, Hartmut Löwen, Andrea Gambassi and Giovanni Volpe, Tunable critical Casimir forces counteract Casimir-Lifshitz attraction, Nature Physics 19, 271-278 (2023)