Bubble-propelled micromotors for ammonia generation published in Nanoscale

Bubble-propelled micromotors tracked by deep learning. (Image by H. Bachimanchi.)
Bubble-propelled micromotors for ammonia generation
Rebeca Ferrer Campos, Harshith Bachimanchi, Giovanni Volpe, Katherine Villa
Nanoscale (2023)
doi: 10.1039/D3NR03804A

Micromotors have emerged as promising tools for environmental remediation, thanks to their ability to autonomously navigate and perform specific tasks at the microscale. In this study, we present the development of MnO2 tubular micromotors modified with laccase for enhanced oxidation of organic pollutants by providing an additional oxidative catalytic pathway for pollutant removal. These modified micromotors exhibit efficient ammonia generation through the catalytic decomposition of urea, suggesting their potential application in the field of green energy generation. Compared to bare micromotors, the MnO2 micromotors modified with laccase exhibit a 20% increase in rhodamine B degradation. Moreover, the generation of ammonia increased from 2 to 31 ppm in only 15 min, evidencing their high catalytic activity. To enable precise tracking of the micromotors and measurement of their speed, a deep-learning-based tracking system was developed. Overall, this work expands the potential applicability of bio-catalytic tubular micromotors in the energy field.

Deep-learning-powered data analysis in plankton ecology on ArXiv

Segmentation of two plankton species using deep learning (N. scintillans in blue, D. tertiolecta in green). (Image by H. Bachimanchi.)
Deep-learning-powered data analysis in plankton ecology
Harshith Bachimanchi, Matthew I. M. Pinder, Chloé Robert, Pierre De Wit, Jonathan Havenhand, Alexandra Kinnby, Daniel Midtvedt, Erik Selander, Giovanni Volpe
arXiv: 2309.08500

The implementation of deep learning algorithms has brought new perspectives to plankton ecology. Emerging as an alternative approach to established methods, deep learning offers objective schemes to investigate plankton organisms in diverse environments. We provide an overview of deep-learning-based methods including detection and classification of phyto- and zooplankton images, foraging and swimming behaviour analysis, and finally ecological modelling. Deep learning has the potential to speed up the analysis and reduce the human experimental bias, thus enabling data acquisition at relevant temporal and spatial scales with improved reproducibility. We also discuss shortcomings and show how deep learning architectures have evolved to mitigate imprecise readouts. Finally, we suggest opportunities where deep learning is particularly likely to catalyze plankton research. The examples are accompanied by detailed tutorials and code samples that allow readers to apply the methods described in this review to their own data.

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.

Perspectives on adaptive dynamical systems published in Chaos

Adaptivity across different scientific disciplines (blue) and applications (yellow) as well as its strong inter- linking and interlocking, similar to a system of gears.
(Image by the Authors of the manuscript)
Perspectives on adaptive dynamical systems
Jakub Sawicki, Rico Berner, Sarah A. M. Loos, Mehrnaz Anvari, Rolf Bader, Wolfram Barfuss, Nicola Botta, Nuria Brede, Igor Franović, Daniel J. Gauthier, Sebastian Goldt, Aida Hajizadeh, Philipp Hövel, Omer Karin, Philipp Lorenz-Spreen, Christoph Miehl, Jan Mölter, Simona Olmi, Eckehard Schöll, Alireza Seif, Peter A. Tass, Giovanni Volpe, Serhiy Yanchuk, Jürgen Kurths
Chaos 33, 071501 (2023)
doi: 10.1063/5.0147231
arXiv: 2303.01459

Adaptivity is a dynamical feature that is omnipresent in nature, socio-economics, and technology. For example, adaptive couplings appear in various real-world systems like the power grid, social, and neural networks, and they form the backbone of closed-loop control strategies and machine learning algorithms. In this article, we provide an interdisciplinary perspective on adaptive systems. We reflect on the notion and terminology of adaptivity in different disciplines and discuss which role adaptivity plays for various fields. We highlight common open challenges, and give perspectives on future research directions, looking to inspire interdisciplinary approaches.

Destructive effect of fluctuations on the performance of a Brownian gyrator on ArXiv

Angular velocity in the steady-state. (Excerpt from Fig. 2 of the manuscript.)
Destructive effect of fluctuations on the performance of a Brownian gyrator
Pascal Viot, Aykut Argun, Giovanni Volpe, Alberto Imparato, Lamberto Rondoni, Gleb Oshanin
arxiv: 2307.05248

The Brownian gyrator (BG) is a minimal model of a nano-engine performing a rotational motion, judging solely upon the fact that in non-equilibrium conditions its torque, angular momentum L and angular velocity W have non-zero mean values. For a time-discretized model, we calculate the previously unknown probability density functions (PDFs) of L and W. We find that when the time-step δt → 0, both PDFs converge to uniform distributions with diverging variances. For finite δt, the PDF of L has exponential tails and all moments, but its noise-to-signal ratio is generically much bigger than 1. The PDF of W exhibits heavy power-law tails and its mean W is the only existing moment. The BG is therefore not an engine in common sense: it does not exhibit regular rotations on each run and its fluctuations are not only a minor nuisance.
Our theoretical predictions are confirmed by numerical simulations and experimental data. We discuss some improvements of the model which may result in a more systematic behavior.

Environmental Memory Boosts Group Formation of Clueless Individuals on ArXiv

Non-monotonic size dependence of group formation on environmental crowding. (Excerpt from Fig. 2 of the manuscript.)
Environmental Memory Boosts Group Formation of Clueless Individuals
Cristóvão S. Dias, Manish Trivedi, Giovanni Volpe, Nuno A. M. Araújo, Giorgio Volpe
arXiv: 2306.00516

The formation of groups of interacting individuals improves performance and fitness in many decentralised systems, from micro-organisms to social insects, from robotic swarms to artificial intelligence algorithms. Often, group formation and high-level coordination in these systems emerge from individuals with limited information-processing capabilities implementing low-level rules of communication to signal to each other. Here, we show that, even in a community of clueless individuals incapable of processing information and communicating, a dynamic environment can coordinate group formation by transiently storing memory of the earlier passage of individuals. Our results identify a new mechanism of indirect coordination via shared memory that is primarily promoted and reinforced by dynamic environmental factors, thus overshadowing the need for any form of explicit signalling between individuals. We expect this pathway to group formation to be relevant for understanding and controlling self-organisation and collective decision making in both living and artificial active matter in real-life environments.

Optimal calibration of optical tweezers with arbitrary integration time and sampling frequencies – A general framework on ArXiv

Different sampling methods for the trajectory of a particle. (Adapted from the manuscript.)
Optimal calibration of optical tweezers with arbitrary integration time and sampling frequencies — A general framework
Laura Pérez-García, Martin Selin, Antonio Ciarlo, Alessandro Magazzù, Giuseppe Pesce, Antonio Sasso, Giovanni Volpe, Isaac Pérez Castillo, Alejandro V. Arzola
arXiv: 2305.07245

Optical tweezers (OT) have become an essential technique in several fields of physics, chemistry, and biology as precise micromanipulation tools and microscopic force transducers. Quantitative measurements require the accurate calibration of the trap stiffness of the optical trap and the diffusion constant of the optically trapped particle. This is typically done by statistical estimators constructed from the position signal of the particle, which is recorded by a digital camera or a quadrant photodiode. The finite integration time and sampling frequency of the detector need to be properly taken into account. Here, we present a general approach based on the joint probability density function of the sampled trajectory that corrects exactly the biases due to the detector’s finite integration time and limited sampling frequency, providing theoretical formulas for the most widely employed calibration methods: equipartition, mean squared displacement, autocorrelation, power spectral density, and force reconstruction via maximum-likelihood-estimator analysis (FORMA). Our results, tested with experiments and Monte Carlo simulations, will permit users of OT to confidently estimate the trap stiffness and diffusion constant, extending their use to a broader set of experimental conditions.

Functional gradients of the medial parietal cortex in a healthy cohort with family history of sporadic Alzheimer’s disease published in Alzheimer’s Research & Therapy

Spatial maps depicting the strongest connections from the medial parietal cortex to other cortical and subcortical areas in the PREVENT-AD cohort. (Reproduced from the publication.)
Functional gradients of the medial parietal cortex in a healthy cohort with family history of sporadic Alzheimer’s disease
Dániel Veréb, Mite Mijalkov, Yu-Wei Chang, Anna Canal-Garcia, Emiliano Gomez-Ruis, Anne Maass, Sylvia Villeneuve, Giovanni Volpe Joana B. Pereira
Alzheimer’s Research & Therapy 15, 82 (2023)
doi: 10.1186/s13195-023-01228-3

The medial parietal cortex is an early site of pathological protein deposition in Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Previous studies have identified different subregions within this area; however, these subregions are often heterogeneous and disregard individual differences or subtle pathological alterations in the underlying functional architecture. To address this limitation, here we measured the continuous connectivity gradients of the medial parietal cortex and assessed their relationship with cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) biomarkers, ApoE ε4 carriership and memory in asymptomatic individuals at risk to develop AD.

Two hundred sixty-three cognitively normal participants with a family history of sporadic AD who underwent resting-state and task-based functional MRI using encoding and retrieval tasks were included from the PREVENT-AD cohort. A novel method for characterizing spatially continuous patterns of functional connectivity was applied to estimate functional gradients in the medial parietal cortex during the resting-state and task-based conditions. This resulted in a set of nine parameters that described the appearance of the gradient across different spatial directions. We performed correlation analyses to assess whether these parameters were associated with CSF biomarkers of phosphorylated tau181 (p-tau), total tau (t-tau), and amyloid-ß1-42 (Aß). Then, we compared the spatial parameters between ApoE ε4 carriers and noncarriers, and evaluated the relationship between these parameters and memory.

Alterations involving the superior part of the medial parietal cortex, which was connected to regions of the default mode network, were associated with higher p-tau, t-tau levels as well as lower Aß/p-tau levels during the resting-state condition (p < 0.01). Similar alterations were found in ApoE ε4 carriers compared to non-carriers (p < 0.003). In contrast, lower immediate memory scores were associated with changes in the middle part of the medial parietal cortex, which was connected to inferior temporal and posterior parietal regions, during the encoding task (p = 0.001). No results were found when using conventional connectivity measures.

Functional alterations in the medial parietal gradients are associated with CSF AD biomarkers, ApoE e4 carriership, and lower memory in an asymptomatic cohort with a family history of sporadic AD, suggesting that functional gradients are sensitive to subtle changes associated with early AD stages.

Light, Matter, Action: Shining light on active matter published in ACS Photonics

Actuation of active matter by different properties of light. (Image by M. Rey.)
Light, Matter, Action: Shining light on active matter
Marcel Rey, Giovanni Volpe, Giorgio Volpe
ACS Photonics (2023)
arXiv: 2301.13034
doi: 10.1021/acsphotonics.3c00140

Light carries energy and momentum. It can therefore alter the motion of objects from atomic to astronomical scales. Being widely available, readily controllable and broadly biocompatible, light is also an ideal tool to propel microscopic particles, drive them out of thermodynamic equilibrium and make them active. Thus, light-driven particles have become a recent focus of research in the field of soft active matter. In this perspective, we discuss recent advances in the control of soft active matter with light, which has mainly been achieved using light intensity. We also highlight some first attempts to utilize light’s additional degrees of freedom, such as its wavelength, polarization, and momentum. We then argue that fully exploiting light with all of its properties will play a critical role to increase the level of control over the actuation of active matter as well as the flow of light itself through it. This enabling step will advance the design of soft active matter systems, their functionalities and their transfer towards technological applications.

Roadmap for Optical Tweezers published in Journal of Physics: Photonics

Illustration of an optical tweezers holding a particle. (Image by A. Magazzù.)
Roadmap for optical tweezers
Giovanni Volpe, Onofrio M Maragò, Halina Rubinsztein-Dunlop, Giuseppe Pesce, Alexander B Stilgoe, Giorgio Volpe, Georgiy Tkachenko, Viet Giang Truong, Síle Nic Chormaic, Fatemeh Kalantarifard, Parviz Elahi, Mikael Käll, Agnese Callegari, Manuel I Marqués, Antonio A R Neves, Wendel L Moreira, Adriana Fontes, Carlos L Cesar, Rosalba Saija, Abir Saidi, Paul Beck, Jörg S Eismann, Peter Banzer, Thales F D Fernandes, Francesco Pedaci, Warwick P Bowen, Rahul Vaippully, Muruga Lokesh, Basudev Roy, Gregor Thalhammer-Thurner, Monika Ritsch-Marte, Laura Pérez García, Alejandro V Arzola, Isaac Pérez Castillo, Aykut Argun, Till M Muenker, Bart E Vos, Timo Betz, Ilaria Cristiani, Paolo Minzioni, Peter J Reece, Fan Wang, David McGloin, Justus C Ndukaife, Romain Quidant, Reece P Roberts, Cyril Laplane, Thomas Volz, Reuven Gordon, Dag Hanstorp, Javier Tello Marmolejo, Graham D Bruce, Kishan Dholakia, Tongcang Li, Oto Brzobohatý, Stephen H Simpson, Pavel Zemánek, Felix Ritort, Yael Roichman, Valeriia Bobkova, Raphael Wittkowski, Cornelia Denz, G V Pavan Kumar, Antonino Foti, Maria Grazia Donato, Pietro G Gucciardi, Lucia Gardini, Giulio Bianchi, Anatolii V Kashchuk, Marco Capitanio, Lynn Paterson, Philip H Jones, Kirstine Berg-Sørensen, Younes F Barooji, Lene B Oddershede, Pegah Pouladian, Daryl Preece, Caroline Beck Adiels, Anna Chiara De Luca, Alessandro Magazzù, David Bronte Ciriza, Maria Antonia Iatì, Grover A Swartzlander Jr
Journal of Physics: Photonics 2(2), 022501 (2023)
arXiv: 2206.13789
doi: 110.1088/2515-7647/acb57b

Optical tweezers are tools made of light that enable contactless pushing, trapping, and manipulation of objects, ranging from atoms to space light sails. Since the pioneering work by Arthur Ashkin in the 1970s, optical tweezers have evolved into sophisticated instruments and have been employed in a broad range of applications in the life sciences, physics, and engineering. These include accurate force and torque measurement at the femtonewton level, microrheology of complex fluids, single micro- and nano-particle spectroscopy, single-cell analysis, and statistical-physics experiments. This roadmap provides insights into current investigations involving optical forces and optical tweezers from their theoretical foundations to designs and setups. It also offers perspectives for applications to a wide range of research fields, from biophysics to space exploration.