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EPJ D Highlight - Fusion helped by collision science

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The ITER fusion reactor’s inner wall containing beryllium among other constituents. © ITER Organisation

Understanding the mechanisms of electron-molecule collisions could help predict the operations inside the fusion chamber of the ITER reactor

An international team of physicists has calculated the efficiency of a reaction involving an incoming electron kicking out an electron from the metal beryllium (Be) or its hydrogen compound molecules, in an article just published in EPJ D. The efficiency, which partly depends on the electron’s incoming speed, is encapsulated in a quantity referred to as electron-impact ionisation cross sections (EICS). Electron-molecule interactions matter because they occur in a broad range of applications from the simplest like fluorescent lamps to the most complex, for example, in ionised matter found in plasmas such as latest generation screens, the outer space of the universe, and in fusion reactors.

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EPJ A has a new Editor in Chief for experimental physics

Nicolas Alamanos new Editor-in-Chief of EPJ A as of 1 January 2013

From January 2013 Nicolas Alamanos succeeds Enzo De Sanctis as Editor in Chief of EPJ A for the experimental physics section.

Professor Alamanos is Deputy Director of the Institute of Research into the Fundamental Laws of the Universe (IRFU) and Research Director at CEA Saclay working in the domain of fundamental research in Nuclear Physics. During his long scientific career, he has served on many scientific and program advisory committees and has occupied different managerial positions. Most notably he has been president of GANIL’s scientific council and director of Saclay Nuclear Physics Division. He is a member or evaluator of many national committees – ARISTEIA (GRECE), FRS-FNRS (Belgium), ANR (France). He is currently a member of the GANIL/SPIRAL2 scientific council, of GANIL’s program advisory committee, and scientific counselor of the European program “CEA-Euro talents” in the domain of high energy physics and physics of the universe.

In addition to his various scientific and administrative duties, Professor Alamanos has always been very active editorially: beyond having been a member of the editorial board of EPJ A for many years, he is the Editor of the Scholarpedia Encyclopedia of Nuclear Physics.

EPJ D Highlight - May the force be with the atomic probe

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The ratio between the interaction potentials in the bulk and surface models showing that the difference is largest when the atom-surface distance is matched to the screening length. © E.Eizner, B. Horovitz, and C. Henkel

New models suggest devising means of probing a surface at a sub-micrometric level as this will help us understand how electrons’ diffusion affects long-range attractive forces

Theoretical physicist Elad Eizner from Ben Gurion University, Israel, and colleagues created models to study the attractive forces affecting atoms located at a wide range of distances from a surface, in the hundreds of nanometers range. Their results, just published in EPJ D, show that these forces depend on electron diffusion, regardless of whether the surface is conducting or not. Ultimately, these findings could contribute to designing minimally invasive surface probes.

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EPJ B Highlight - Silver Sheds Light On Superconductor Secrets

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The resistivity for Bi4-xAgxO4S3 (0≤x≤0.2) as a function of temperature. © S. G. Tan et al.

By doping a bismuth-based layered material with silver, Chinese scientists demonstrated that superconductivity is intrinsic to the new material rather than stemming from its impurities

The first report on the chemical substitution, or doping, using silver atoms, for a new class of superconductor that was only discovered this year, has just been published in EPJ B. Chinese scientists from Institute of Solid State Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Hefei, discovered that the superconductivity is intrinsic rather than created by impurities in this material with a sandwich-style layered structure made of bismuth oxysulphide (Bi4O4S3).

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EPJ E Highlight - Adhesion disturbed by noise

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Schematic illustrations of the pining and de-pinning events of the fibrils in contact with a rigid sphere. © M. K. Chaudhury and P. S. Goohpattader

A new model could ultimately help robotic fingers, made of a soft surface, manipulate small objects

Imagine a solid ball rolling down a slightly inclined ramp. What could be perceived as child’s play is the focus of serious theoretical research by Manoj Chaudhury and Partho Goohpattader, two physicists from Lehigh University, Bethlehem, Pensylvania, USA. Their study, which has just been published in EPJ E, has one thing in common with childhood behaviour. It introduces a mischievous idea, namely studying the effect of random noise, such as vibrations, on the ball. They found it could lower the energy barrier to set the ball in motion.

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EPJ Data Science Highlight - Tracking gene flow in marine plant evolution

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Genetic flow network for the Cymodocea nodosa marine plant. © A. P. Masucci et al.

Physicists and biologists apply Big Data statistical tools to study marine plant evolution

A new method that could give a deeper insight into evolutional biology by tracing directionality in gene migration has just appeared in EPJ Data Science. Paolo Masucci from the Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis, at University College of London, UK, and colleagues identified the segregation of genes that a marine plant underwent during its evolution. They found that the exchange of genes, or gene flow, between populations of a marine plant went westward from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic. This methodology could also be used to estimate the information flow in complex networks, including other biological or social networks.

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EPJ C Highlight - Curvature Oscillations in Modified Gravity Theories as Possible Source of Ultra-High-Energy Cosmic Rays

The origin of ultra-high-energy cosmic rays, with energies around the GZK cutoff, remains an unsolved mystery. In the present letter a novel and intriguing explanation is suggested that links far-reaching fundamental aspects of F(R) modified theories to an efficient production of highly energetic cosmic rays during the recent history of the Universe.

At the core of this work lies the proof that in cosmological and astrophysical systems with rising energy densities, the F(R) modified theories of gravity exhibit powerful oscillations of the curvature scalar R, with an amplitude much larger than the standard value of curvature predicted by the General Relativity. These oscillations are strongly anharmonic, with frequencies that can be as large as billions of GeV. This striking and rather unexpected oscillatory behavior of R lends support to the idea that ultra-high energy cosmic rays can be generated by such curvature oscillations at the appropriate cosmological redshifts.

Curvature oscillations in modified gravity and high energy cosmic rays. E.V. Arbuzova, A.D. Dolgov, L. Reverberi (2012), European Physical Journal C 72:2247, DOI 10.1140/epjc/s10052-012-2247-z

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EPJ D Colloquium – An accurate method to measure scattering non-perturbatively

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Comparison of the experiment and simulation laser induced fluorescence spectrum of hydroxyl. © Qing Xiong

Atomic and molecular collisions occurring at low impact energies and for neutral targets need adequate methods for accurately measuring their scattering properties. Such measures are fundamental to the description of the dynamics of plasmas and provide insight into the long-range Coulomb interactions between charged particles. In the last twenty years many novel non-perturbative approaches have been applied. The time-dependent close-coupling (TDCC) approach, discussed in this EPJD Review, differs fundamentally from previous non-perturbative approaches in that it solves the time-dependent, rather than time-independent, Schr¨odinger equation. This Review provides a detailed description of the application of the time-dependent close-coupling approach to ionising collisions of electrons, photons and ions with small atoms and molecules.

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EPJ D Highlight - Bringing measuring accuracy to radical treatment

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Comparison of the experiment and simulation laser induced fluorescence spectrum of hydroxyl. © Qing Xiong

Significant progress made in evaluating the density of active species used in medical applications of plasma physics could improve the accuracy of treatment

An international team of scientists working at the Plasma Technology research unit at Ghent University, Belgium, has determined for the first time the absolute density of active substances called radicals found in a state of matter known as plasma, in a study just published in EPJ D. These findings could have important implications for medicine—for example, for stimulating tissue regeneration, or to induce a targeted antiseptic effect in vivo without affecting neighbouring tissues.

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