A variety of different gold and silver nanostructures have been proposed over the years as high sensitivity surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) sensors. However, efficient use of SERS has been hindered by the difficulty of realizing SERS substrates that provide reproducible SERS response over the whole active area. Here, we show that atomic layer deposition (ALD) grown iridium can be used to produce highly reliable SERS substrates. The substrates are based on a periodic array of high aspect-ratio iridium coated nanopillars that feature efficient and symmetrically distributed hot spots within the inter-pillar gaps (gap width < 10 nm). We show that the enhancement with the iridium based nanostructures is of significant magnitude and it equals the enhancement of silver based reference substrates. Most notably, we demonstrate that the ordered and well defined plasmonic nanopillars offer a measurement-to-measurement variability of 5%, which paves the way for truly quantitative SERS measurements.
The nanostructuring of silicon surfaces-known as black silicon-is a promising approach to eliminate front-surface reflection in photovoltaic devices without the need for a conventional antireflection coating. This might lead to both an increase in efficiency and a reduction in the manufacturing costs of solar cells. However, all previous attempts to integrate black silicon into solar cells have resulted in cell efficiencies well below 20% due to the increased charge carrier recombination at the nanostructured surface. Here, we show that a conformal alumina film can solve the issue of surface recombination in black silicon solar cells by providing excellent chemical and electrical passivation. We demonstrate that efficiencies above 22% can be reached, even in thick interdigitated back-contacted cells, where carrier transport is very sensitive to front surface passivation. This means that the surface recombination issue has truly been solved and black silicon solar cells have real potential for industrial production. Furthermore, we show that the use of black silicon can result in a 3% increase in daily energy production when compared with a reference cell with the same efficiency, due to its better angular acceptance.
Hierarchical assembly of self-healing adhesive proteins creates strong and robust structural and interfacial materials, but understanding of the molecular design and structure-property relationships of structural proteins remains unclear. Elucidating this relationship would allow rational design of next generation genetically engineered self-healing structural proteins. Here we report a general self-healing and -assembly strategy based on a multiphase recombinant protein based material. Segmented structure of the protein shows soft glycine- and tyrosine-rich segments with self-healing capability and hard beta-sheet segments. The soft segments are strongly plasticized by water, lowering the self-healing temperature close to body temperature. The hard segments self-assemble into nanoconfined domains to reinforce the material. The healing strength scales sublinearly with contact time, which associates with diffusion and wetting of autohesion. The finding suggests that recombinant structural proteins from heterologous expression have potential as strong and repairable engineering materials.
The interspecific hybrid Saccharomyces pastorianus is the most commonly used yeast in brewery fermentations worldwide. Here, we generated de novo lager yeast hybrids by mating a domesticated and strongly flocculent Saccharomyces cerevisiae ale strain with the Saccharomyces eubayanus type strain. The hybrids were characterized with respect to the parent strains in a wort fermentation performed at temperatures typical for lager brewing (12 °C). The resulting beers were analysed for sugar and aroma compounds, while the yeasts were tested for their flocculation ability and α-glucoside transport capability. These hybrids inherited beneficial properties from both parent strains (cryotolerance, maltotriose utilization and strong flocculation) and showed apparent hybrid vigour, fermenting faster and producing beer with higher alcohol content (5.6 vs 4.5 % ABV) than the parents. Results suggest that interspecific hybridization is suitable for production of novel non-GM lager yeast strains with unique properties and will help in elucidating the evolutionary history of industrial lager yeast.
Dogs and cats have been cohabiting with us for thousands of years. They are the major human companions. Today, dogs and cats live in urban areas. Cats and most dogs are on high carbohydrate diets and face similar life-style challenges as the human beings. The health and well-being of companion animals, just as their owners, depends on the gut microbes. Providing a proper care and nutritionally balanced diet to companion animals is recognised as a part of our responsibility to maintain the health and wellbeing of our pet. However, as microbiota differences may facilitate exposure to pathogens and harmful environmental influences, it is prudent to search for novel tools to protect dogs and cats and at the same time the human owners from pathogens. Specific probiotic strains and/or their defined combinations may be useful in the canine and feline nutrition, therapy, and care. Probiotic supplementations have been successful in the prevention and treatment of acute gastroenteritis, treatment of IBD, and prevention of allergy in companion animals. New challenges for probiotic applications include maintenance of obesity and overweight, urogenital tract infections, Helicobacter gastritis and parasitic infections. The probiotics of human origin appear to be among the new promising tools for the maintenance of pets' health. However, the host-derived microorganisms might be the most appropriate probiotic source. Therefore, more controlled trials are needed to characterise new and safe probiotic preparations with an impact on general health and well being as well as health maintenance in dogs and cats.
Uneven illumination affects every image acquired by a microscope. It is often overlooked, but it can introduce considerable bias to image measurements. The most reliable correction methods require special reference images, and retrospective alternatives do not fully model the correction process. Our approach overcomes these issues for most optical microscopy applications without the need for reference images.