## Institut für Physik und Astronomie

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The importance of plasmonic heating for the plasmondriven photodimerization of 4-nitrothiophenol
(2018)

Metal nanoparticles form potent nanoreactors, driven by the optical generation of energetic electrons and nanoscale heat. The relative influence of these two factors on nanoscale chemistry is strongly debated. This article discusses the temperature dependence of the dimerization of 4-nitrothiophenol (4-NTP) into 4,4′-dimercaptoazobenzene (DMAB) adsorbed on gold nanoflowers by Surface-Enhanced Raman Scattering (SERS). Raman thermometry shows a significant optical heating of the particles. The ratio of the Stokes and the anti-Stokes Raman signal moreover demonstrates that the molecular temperature during the reaction rises beyond the average crystal lattice temperature of the plasmonic particles. The product bands have an even higher temperature than reactant bands, which suggests that the reaction proceeds preferentially at thermal hot spots. In addition, kinetic measurements of the reaction during external heating of the reaction environment yield a considerable rise of the reaction rate with temperature. Despite this significant heating effects, a comparison of SERS spectra recorded after heating the sample by an external heater to spectra recorded after prolonged illumination shows that the reaction is strictly photo-driven. While in both cases the temperature increase is comparable, the dimerization occurs only in the presence of light. Intensity dependent measurements at fixed temperatures confirm this finding.

To understand the evolution and morphology of planetary nebulae, a detailed knowledge of their central stars is required. Central stars that exhibit emission lines in their spectra, indicating stellar mass-loss allow to study the evolution of planetary nebulae in action. Emission line central stars constitute about 10 % of all central stars. Half of them are practically hydrogen-free Wolf-Rayet type central stars of the carbon sequence, [WC], that show strong emission lines of carbon and oxygen in their spectra. In this contribution we address the weak emission-lines central stars (wels). These stars are poorly analyzed and their hydrogen content is mostly unknown. We obtained optical spectra, that include the important Balmer lines of hydrogen, for four weak emission line central stars. We present the results of our analysis, provide spectral classification and discuss possible explanations for their formation and evolution.

We report on light sensitive microgel particles that can change their volume reversibly in response to illumination with light of different wavelengths. To make the anionic microgels photosensitive we add surfactants with a positively charged polyamine head group and an azobenzene containing tail. Upon illumination, azobenzene undergoes a reversible photo-isomerization reaction from a trans- to a cis-state accompanied by a change in the hydrophobicity of the surfactant. Depending on the isomerization state, the surfactant molecules are either accommodated within the microgel (trans-state) resulting in its shrinkage or desorbed back into water (cis-isomer) letting the microgel swell. We have studied three surfactants differing in the number of amino groups, so that the number of charges of the surfactant head varies between 1 and 3. We have found experimentally and theoretically that the surfactant concentration needed for microgel compaction increases with decreasing number of charges of the head group. Utilization of polyamine azobenzene containing surfactants for the light triggered remote control of the microgel size opens up a possibility for applications of light responsive microgels as drug carriers in biology and medicine.

In this paper two groups supporting different views on the mechanism of light induced polymer deformation argue about the respective underlying theoretical conceptions, in order to bring this interesting debate to the attention of the scientific community. The group of Prof. Nicolae Hurduc supports the model claiming that the cyclic isomerization of azobenzenes may cause an athermal transition of the glassy azobenzene containing polymer into a fluid state, the so-called photo-fluidization concept. This concept is quite convenient for an intuitive understanding of the deformation process as an anisotropic flow of the polymer material. The group of Prof. Svetlana Santer supports the re-orientational model where the mass-transport of the polymer material accomplished during polymer deformation is stated to be generated by the light-induced re-orientation of the azobenzene side chains and as a consequence of the polymer backbone that in turn results in local mechanical stress, which is enough to irreversibly deform an azobenzene containing material even in the glassy state. For the debate we chose three polymers differing in the glass transition temperature, 32 °C, 87 °C and 95 °C, representing extreme cases of flexible and rigid materials. Polymer film deformation occurring during irradiation with different interference patterns is recorded using a homemade set-up combining an optical part for the generation of interference patterns and an atomic force microscope for acquiring the kinetics of film deformation. We also demonstrated the unique behaviour of azobenzene containing polymeric films to switch the topography in situ and reversibly by changing the irradiation conditions. We discuss the results of reversible deformation of three polymers induced by irradiation with intensity (IIP) and polarization (PIP) interference patterns, and the light of homogeneous intensity in terms of two approaches: the re-orientational and the photo-fluidization concepts. Both agree in that the formation of opto-mechanically induced stresses is a necessary prerequisite for the process of deformation. Using this argument, the deformation process can be characterized either as a flow or mass transport.

In a network with a mixture of different electrophysiological types of neurons linked by excitatory and inhibitory connections, temporal evolution leads through repeated epochs of intensive global activity separated by intervals with low activity level. This behavior mimics "up" and "down" states, experimentally observed in cortical tissues in absence of external stimuli. We interpret global dynamical features in terms of individual dynamics of the neurons. In particular, we observe that the crucial role both in interruption and in resumption of global activity is played by distributions of the membrane recovery variable within the network. We also demonstrate that the behavior of neurons is more influenced by their presynaptic environment in the network than by their formal types, assigned in accordance with their response to constant current.

In the study of relativistic jets one of the key open questions is their interaction with the environment on the microscopic level. Here, we study the initial evolution of both electron-proton (e(-)-p(+)) and electron-positron (e(+/-)) relativistic jets containing helical magnetic fields, focusing on their interaction with an ambient plasma. We have performed simulations of "global" jets containing helical magnetic fields in order to examine how helical magnetic fields affect kinetic instabilities such as the Weibel instability, the kinetic Kelvin-Helmholtz instability (kKHI) and the Mushroom instability (MI). In our initial simulation study these kinetic instabilities are suppressed and new types of instabilities can grow. In the e(-)-p(+) jet simulation a recollimation-like instability occurs and jet electrons are strongly perturbed. In the e(+/-) jet simulation a recollimation-like instability occurs at early times followed by a kinetic instability and the general structure is similar to a simulation without helical magnetic field. Simulations using much larger systems are required in order to thoroughly follow the evolution of global jets containing helical magnetic fields.

Brownian yet non-Gaussian dynamics was observed. These are processes characterised by a linear growth in time of the mean squared displacement, yet the probability density function of the particle displacement is distinctly non-Gaussian, and often of exponential(Laplace) shape. This apparently ubiquitous behaviour observed in very different physical systems has been interpreted as resulting from diffusion in inhomogeneous environments and mathematically represented through a variable, stochastic diffusion coefficient. Indeed different models describing a fluctuating diffusivity have been studied. Here we present a new view of the stochastic basis describing time dependent random diffusivities within a broad spectrum of distributions. Concretely, our study is based on the very generic class of the generalised Gamma distribution. Two models for the particle spreading in such random diffusivity settings are studied. The first belongs to the class of generalised grey Brownian motion while the second follows from the idea of diffusing diffusivities. The two processes exhibit significant characteristics which reproduce experimental results from different biological and physical systems. We promote these two physical models for the description of stochastic particle motion in complex environments.

Recent advances in single particle tracking and supercomputing techniques demonstrate the emergence of normal or anomalous, viscoelastic diffusion in conjunction with non-Gaussian distributions in soft, biological, and active matter systems. We here formulate a stochastic model based on a generalised Langevin equation in which non-Gaussian shapes of the probability density function and normal or anomalous diffusion have a common origin, namely a random parametrisation of the stochastic force. We perform a detailed analysis demonstrating how various types of parameter distributions for the memory kernel result in exponential, power law, or power-log law tails of the memory functions. The studied system is also shown to exhibit a further unusual property: the velocity has a Gaussian one point probability density but non-Gaussian joint distributions. This behaviour is reflected in the relaxation from a Gaussian to a non-Gaussian distribution observed for the position variable. We show that our theoretical results are in excellent agreement with stochastic simulations.

Fixational eye movements show scaling behaviour of the positional mean-squared displacement with a characteristic transition from persistence to antipersistence for increasing time-lag. These statistical patterns were found to be mainly shaped by microsaccades (fast, small-amplitude movements). However, our re-analysis of fixational eye-movement data provides evidence that the slow component (physiological drift) of the eyes exhibits scaling behaviour of the mean-squared displacement that varies across human participants. These results suggest that drift is a correlated movement that interacts with microsaccades. Moreover, on the long time scale, the mean-squared displacement of the drift shows oscillations, which is also present in the displacement auto-correlation function. This finding lends support to the presence of time-delayed feedback in the control of drift movements. Based on an earlier non-linear delayed feedback model of fixational eye movements, we propose and discuss different versions of a new model that combines a self-avoiding walk with time delay. As a result, we identify a model that reproduces oscillatory correlation functions, the transition from persistence to antipersistence, and microsaccades.

Effects of the target aspect ratio and intrinsic reactivity onto diffusive search in bounded domains
(2017)

We study the mean first passage time (MFPT) to a reaction event on a specific site in a cylindrical geometry—characteristic, for instance, for bacterial cells, with a concentric inner cylinder representing the nuclear region of the bacterial cell. Asimilar problem emerges in the description of a diffusive search by a transcription factor protein for a specific binding region on a single strand of DNA.We develop a unified theoretical approach to study the underlying boundary value problem which is based on a self-consistent approximation of the mixed boundary condition. Our approach permits us to derive explicit, novel, closed-form expressions for the MFPT valid for a generic setting with an arbitrary relation between the system parameters.Weanalyse this general result in the asymptotic limits appropriate for the above-mentioned biophysical problems. Our investigation reveals the crucial role of the target aspect ratio and of the intrinsic reactivity of the binding region, which were disregarded in previous studies. Theoretical predictions are confirmed by numerical simulations.

Despite the ongoing progress in nanotechnology and its applications, the development of strategies for connecting nano-scale systems to micro- or macroscale elements is hampered by the lack of structural components that have both, nano- and macroscale dimensions. The production of nano-scale wires with macroscale length is one of the most interesting challenges here. There are a lot of strategies to fabricate long nanoscopic stripes made of metals, polymers or ceramics but none is suitable for mass production of ordered and dense arrangements of wires at large numbers. In this paper, we report on a technique for producing arrays of ordered, flexible and free-standing polymer nano-wires filled with different types of nano-particles. The process utilizes the strong response of photosensitive polymer brushes to irradiation with UV-interference patterns, resulting in a substantial mass redistribution of the polymer material along with local rupturing of polymer chains. The chains can wind up in wires of nano-scale thickness and a length of up to several centimeters. When dispersing nano-particles within the film, the final arrangement is similar to a core-shell geometry with mainly nano-particles found in the core region and the polymer forming a dielectric jacket.

Molecules often fragment after photoionization in the gas phase. Usually, this process can only be investigated spectroscopically as long as there exists electron correlation between the photofragments. Important parameters, like their kinetic energy after separation, cannot be investigated. We are reporting on a femtosecond time-resolved Auger electron spectroscopy study concerning the photofragmentation dynamics of thymine. We observe the appearance of clearly distinguishable signatures from thymine′s neutral photofragment isocyanic acid. Furthermore, we observe a time-dependent shift of its spectrum, which we can attribute to the influence of the charged fragment on the Auger electron. This allows us to map our time-dependent dataset onto the fragmentation coordinate. The time dependence of the shift supports efficient transformation of the excess energy gained from photoionization into kinetic energy of the fragments. Our method is broadly applicable to the investigation of photofragmentation processes.

We consider synchronization properties of arrays of spin-torque nano-oscillators coupled via an RC load. We show that while the fully synchronized state of identical oscillators may be locally stable in some parameter range, this synchrony is not globally attracting. Instead, regimes of different levels of compositional complexity are observed. These include chimera states (a part of the array forms a cluster while other units are desynchronized), clustered chimeras (several clusters plus desynchronized oscillators), cluster state (all oscillators form several clusters), and partial synchronization (no clusters but a nonvanishing mean field). Dynamically, these states are also complex, demonstrating irregular and close to quasiperiodic modulation. Remarkably, when heterogeneity of spin-torque oscillators is taken into account, dynamical complexity even increases: close to the onset of a macroscopic mean field, the dynamics of this field is rather irregular.

Passive coherent combination of several discrete low power laser diodes is a promising way to overcome the issue of degrading beam quality when scaling single emitters to > 10W output power. Such systems would be an efficient alternative to current high power sources, yet they suffer from fatal coherence loss when operated well above threshold. We present a new way to obtain detailed coherence information for laser diode arrays using a spatial light modulator to help identify the underlying decoherence processes. Reconstruction tests of the emitted far-field distribution are conducted to evaluate the performance of our setup.

Anomalous diffusion is being discovered in a fast growing number of systems. The exact nature of this anomalous diffusion provides important information on the physical laws governing the studied system. One of the central properties analysed for finite particle motion time series is the intrinsic variability of the apparent diffusivity, typically quantified by the ergodicity breaking parameter EB. Here we demonstrate that frequently EB is insufficient to provide a meaningful measure for the observed variability of the data. Instead, important additional information is provided by the higher order moments entering by the skewness and kurtosis. We analyse these quantities for three popular anomalous diffusion models. In particular, we find that even for the Gaussian fractional Brownian motion a significant skewness in the results of physical measurements occurs and needs to be taken into account. Interestingly, the kurtosis and skewness may also provide sensitive estimates of the anomalous diffusion exponent underlying the data. We also derive a new result for the EB parameter of fractional Brownian motion valid for the whole range of the anomalous diffusion parameter. Our results are important for the analysis of anomalous diffusion but also provide new insights into the theory of anomalous stochastic processes.

Background: Inferring regulatory interactions between genes from transcriptomics time-resolved data, yielding reverse engineered gene regulatory networks, is of paramount importance to systems biology and bioinformatics studies. Accurate methods to address this problem can ultimately provide a deeper insight into the complexity, behavior, and functions of the underlying biological systems. However, the large number of interacting genes coupled with short and often noisy time-resolved read-outs of the system renders the reverse engineering a challenging task. Therefore, the development and assessment of methods which are computationally efficient, robust against noise, applicable to short time series data, and preferably capable of reconstructing the directionality of the regulatory interactions remains a pressing research problem with valuable applications.
Results: Here we perform the largest systematic analysis of a set of similarity measures and scoring schemes within the scope of the relevance network approach which are commonly used for gene regulatory network reconstruction from time series data. In addition, we define and analyze several novel measures and schemes which are particularly suitable for short transcriptomics time series. We also compare the considered 21 measures and 6 scoring schemes according to their ability to correctly reconstruct such networks from short time series data by calculating summary statistics based on the corresponding specificity and sensitivity. Our results demonstrate that rank and symbol based measures have the highest performance in inferring regulatory interactions. In addition, the proposed scoring scheme by asymmetric weighting has shown to be valuable in reducing the number of false positive interactions. On the other hand, Granger causality as well as information-theoretic measures, frequently used in inference of regulatory networks, show low performance on the short time series analyzed in this study.
Conclusions: Our study is intended to serve as a guide for choosing a particular combination of similarity measures and scoring schemes suitable for reconstruction of gene regulatory networks from short time series data. We show that further improvement of algorithms for reverse engineering can be obtained if one considers measures that are rooted in the study of symbolic dynamics or ranks, in contrast to the application of common similarity measures which do not consider the temporal character of the employed data. Moreover, we establish that the asymmetric weighting scoring scheme together with symbol based measures (for low noise level) and rank based measures (for high noise level) are the most suitable choices.

We demonstrate in situ recorded motion of nano-objects adsorbed on a photosensitive polymer film. The motion is induced by a mass transport of the underlying photoresponsive polymer material occurring during irradiation with interference pattern. The polymer film contains azobenzene molecules that undergo reversible photoisomerization reaction from trans- to cis-conformation. Through a multi-scale chain of physico-chemical processes, this finally results in the macro-deformations of the film due to the changing elastic properties of polymer. The topographical deformation of the polymer surface is sensitive to a local distribution of the electrical field vector that allows for the generation of dynamic changes in the surface topography during irradiation with different light interference patterns. Polymer film deformation together with the motion of the adsorbed nano-particles are recorded using a homemade set-up combining an optical part for the generation of interference patterns and an atomic force microscope for acquiring the surface deformation. The particles undergo either translational or rotational motion. The direction of particle motion is towards the topography minima and opposite to the mass transport within the polymer film. The ability to relocate particles by photo-induced dynamic topography fluctuation offers a way for a non-contact simultaneous manipulation of a large number of adsorbed particles just in air at ambient conditions.

We introduce three strategies for the analysis of financial time series based on time averaged observables. These comprise the time averaged mean squared displacement (MSD) as well as the ageing and delay time methods for varying fractions of the financial time series. We explore these concepts via statistical analysis of historic time series for several Dow Jones Industrial indices for the period from the 1960s to 2015. Remarkably, we discover a simple universal law for the delay time averaged MSD. The observed features of the financial time series dynamics agree well with our analytical results for the time averaged measurables for geometric Brownian motion, underlying the famed Black–Scholes–Merton model. The concepts we promote here are shown to be useful for financial data analysis and enable one to unveil new universal features of stock market dynamics.

Complementarity in single photon interference – the role of the mode function and vacuum fields
(2017)

Background
In earlier experiments the role of the vacuum fields could be demonstrated as the source of complementarity with respect to the temporal properties (Heuer et al., Phys. Rev. Lett. 114:053601, 2015).
Methods
Single photon first order interferences of spatially separated regions from the cone structure of spontaneous parametric down conversion allow for analyzing the role of the mode function in quantum optics regarding the complementarity principle.
Results
Here the spatial coherence properties of these vacuum fields are demonstrated as the physical reason for complementarity in these single photon quantum optical experiments. These results are directly connected to the mode picture in classical optics.
Conclusion
The properties of the involved vacuum fields selected via the measurement process are the physical background of the complementarity principle in quantum optics.

In this paper we report an experimental and computational study of liquid acetonitrile (H3C–C[triple bond, length as m-dash]N) by resonant inelastic X-ray scattering (RIXS) at the N K-edge. The experimental spectra exhibit clear signatures of the electronic structure of the valence states at the N site and incident-beam-polarization dependence is observed as well. Moreover, we find fine structure in the quasielastic line that is assigned to finite scattering duration and nuclear relaxation. We present a simple and light-to-evaluate model for the RIXS maps and analyze the experimental data using this model combined with ab initio molecular dynamics simulations. In addition to polarization-dependence and scattering-duration effects, we pinpoint the effects of different types of chemical bonding to the RIXS spectrum and conclude that the H2C–C[double bond, length as m-dash]NH isomer, suggested in the literature, does not exist in detectable quantities. We study solution effects on the scattering spectra with simulations in liquid and in vacuum. The presented model for RIXS proved to be light enough to allow phase-space-sampling and still accurate enough for identification of transition lines in physical chemistry research by RIXS.

We present results on ultrafast gas electron diffraction (UGED) experiments with femtosecond resolution using the MeV electron gun at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. UGED is a promising method to investigate molecular dynamics in the gas phase because electron pulses can probe the structure with a high spatial resolution. Until recently, however, it was not possible for UGED to reach the relevant timescale for the motion of the nuclei during a molecular reaction. Using MeV electron pulses has allowed us to overcome the main challenges in reaching femtosecond resolution, namely delivering short electron pulses on a gas target, overcoming the effect of velocity mismatch between pump laser pulses and the probe electron pulses, and maintaining a low timing jitter. At electron kinetic energies above 3 MeV, the velocity mismatch between laser and electron pulses becomes negligible. The relativistic electrons are also less susceptible to temporal broadening due to the Coulomb force. One of the challenges of diffraction with relativistic electrons is that the small de Broglie wavelength results in very small diffraction angles. In this paper we describe the new setup and its characterization, including capturing static diffraction patterns of molecules in the gas phase, finding time-zero with sub-picosecond accuracy and first time-resolved diffraction experiments. The new device can achieve a temporal resolution of 100 fs root-mean-square, and sub-angstrom spatial resolution. The collimation of the beam is sufficient to measure the diffraction pattern, and the transverse coherence is on the order of 2 nm. Currently, the temporal resolution is limited both by the pulse duration of the electron pulse on target and by the timing jitter, while the spatial resolution is limited by the average electron beam current and the signal-to-noise ratio of the detection system. We also discuss plans for improving both the temporal resolution and the spatial resolution.

Interplay of coupling and common noise at the transition to synchrony in oscillator populations
(2016)

There are two ways to synchronize oscillators: by coupling and by common forcing, which can be pure noise. By virtue of the Ott-Antonsen ansatz for sine-coupled phase oscillators, we obtain analytically tractable equations for the case where both coupling and common noise are present. While noise always tends to synchronize the phase oscillators, the repulsive coupling can act against synchrony, and we focus on this nontrivial situation. For identical oscillators, the fully synchronous state remains stable for small repulsive coupling; moreover it is an absorbing state which always wins over the asynchronous regime. For oscillators with a distribution of natural frequencies, we report on a counter-intuitive effect of dispersion (instead of usual convergence) of the oscillators frequencies at synchrony; the latter effect disappears if noise vanishes.

The plasmon resonance of metal nanoparticles determines their optical response in the visible spectral range. Many details such as the electronic properties of gold near the particle surface and the local environment of the particles influence the spectra. We show how the cheap but highly precise fabrication of composite nanolayers by spin-assisted layer-by-layer deposition of polyelectrolytes can be used to investigate the spectral response of gold nanospheres (GNS) and gold nanorods (GNR) in a self-consistent way, using the established Maxwell–Garnett effective medium (MGEM) theory beyond the limit of homogeneous media. We show that the dielectric function of gold nanoparticles differs from the bulk value and experimentally characterize the shape and the surrounding of the particles thoroughly by SEM, AFM and ellipsometry. Averaging the dielectric functions of the layered surrounding by an appropriate weighting with the electric field intensity yields excellent agreement for the spectra of several nanoparticles and nanorods with various cover-layer thicknesses.

We have investigated the electrochemical, spectroscopic and electroluminescent properties of a family of aza-aromatic complexes of ruthenium of type [RuII(bpy/phen)2(L)]2+ (4d6) with three isomeric L ligands, where, bpy = 2,2′-bipyridine, phen = 1,10-phenanthroline and the L ligands are 3-(2-pyridyl)[1,2,4]triazolo[1,5-a]pyridine (L1), 3-(2-pyridyl[1,2,3])triazolo[1,5-a]pyridine (L2) and 2-(2-pyridyl)[1,2,4]triazolo[1,5-a]pyridine (L3). The complexes display two bands in the visible region near 410–420 and 440–450 nm. The complexes are diamagnetic and show well defined 1H NMR lines. They are electroactive in acetonitrile solution and exhibit a well defined RuII/RuIII couple near 1.20 to 1.30 V and −1.40 to −1.50 V due to ligand reduction versus Saturated Calomel Electrode (SCE). The solutions are also luminescent, with peaks are near 600 nm. All the complexes are electroluminescent in nature with peaks lying near 580 nm. L1 and L3 ligated complexes with two bpy co-ligands show weak photoluminescence (PL) but stronger electroluminescence (EL) compared to corresponding L2 ligated analogues.

Can the statistical properties of single-electron transfer events be correctly predicted within a common equilibrium ensemble description? This fundamental in nanoworld question of ergodic behavior is scrutinized within a very basic semi-classical curve-crossing problem. It is shown that in the limit of non-adiabatic electron transfer (weak tunneling) well-described by the Marcus–Levich–Dogonadze(MLD) rate the answer is yes. However, in the limit of the so-called solvent-controlled adiabatic electron transfer, a profound breaking of ergodicity occurs. Namely, a common description based on the ensemble reduced density matrix with an initial equilibrium distribution of the reaction coordinate is not able to reproduce the statistics of single-trajectory events in this seemingly classical regime. For sufficiently large activation barriers, the ensemble survival probability in a state remains nearly exponential with the inverse rate given by the sum of the adiabatic curve crossing (Kramers) time and the inverse MLD rate. In contrast, near to the adiabatic regime, the single-electron survival probability is clearly non-exponential, even though it possesses an exponential tail which agrees well with the ensemble description. Initially, it is well described by a Mittag-Leffler distribution with a fractional rate. Paradoxically, the mean transfer time in this classical on the ensemble level regime is well described by the inverse of the nonadiabatic quantum tunneling rate on a single particle level. An analytical theory is developed which perfectly agrees with stochastic simulations and explains our findings.

We introduce azobenzene-functionalized polyelectrolyte multilayers as efficient, inexpensive optoacoustic transducers for hyper-sound strain waves in the GHz range. By picosecond transient reflectivity measurements we study the creation of nanoscale strain waves, their reflection from interfaces, damping by scattering from nanoparticles and propagation in soft and hard adjacent materials like polymer layers, quartz and mica. The amplitude of the generated strain ε ∼ 5 × 10−4 is calibrated by ultrafast X-ray diffraction.

The strong adhesion of sub-micron sized particles to surfaces is a nuisance, both for removing contaminating colloids from surfaces and for conscious manipulation of particles to create and test novel micro/nano-scale assemblies. The obvious idea of using detergents to ease these processes suffers from a lack of control: the action of any conventional surface-modifying agent is immediate and global. With photosensitive azobenzene containing surfactants we overcome these limitations. Such photo-soaps contain optical switches (azobenzene molecules), which upon illumination with light of appropriate wavelength undergo reversible trans-cis photo-isomerization resulting in a subsequent change of the physico-chemical molecular properties. In this work we show that when a spatial gradient in the composition of trans- and cis- isomers is created near a solid-liquid interface, a substantial hydrodynamic flow can be initiated, the spatial extent of which can be set, e.g., by the shape of a laser spot. We propose the concept of light induced diffusioosmosis driving the flow, which can remove, gather or pattern a particle assembly at a solid-liquid interface. In other words, in addition to providing a soap we implement selectivity: particles are mobilized and moved at the time of illumination, and only across the illuminated area.

We study the adsorption–desorption transition of polyelectrolyte chains onto planar, cylindrical and spherical surfaces with arbitrarily high surface charge densities by massive Monte Carlo computer simulations. We examine in detail how the well known scaling relations for the threshold transition—demarcating the adsorbed and desorbed domains of a polyelectrolyte near weakly charged surfaces—are altered for highly charged interfaces. In virtue of high surface potentials and large surface charge densities, the Debye–Hückel approximation is often not feasible and the nonlinear Poisson–Boltzmann approach should be implemented. At low salt conditions, for instance, the electrostatic potential from the nonlinear Poisson–Boltzmann equation is smaller than the Debye–Hückel result, such that the required critical surface charge density for polyelectrolyte adsorption σc increases. The nonlinear relation between the surface charge density and electrostatic potential leads to a sharply increasing critical surface charge density with growing ionic strength, imposing an additional limit to the critical salt concentration above which no polyelectrolyte adsorption occurs at all. We contrast our simulations findings with the known scaling results for weak critical polyelectrolyte adsorption onto oppositely charged surfaces for the three standard geometries. Finally, we discuss some applications of our results for some physical–chemical and biophysical systems.

Based on extensive Monte Carlo simulations and analytical considerations we study the electrostatically driven adsorption of flexible polyelectrolyte chains onto charged Janus nanospheres. These net-neutral colloids are composed of two equally but oppositely charged hemispheres. The critical binding conditions for polyelectrolyte chains are analysed as function of the radius of the Janus particle and its surface charge density, as well as the salt concentration in the ambient solution. Specifically for the adsorption of finite-length polyelectrolyte chains onto Janus nanoparticles, we demonstrate that the critical adsorption conditions drastically differ when the size of the Janus particle or the screening length of the electrolyte are varied. We compare the scaling laws obtained for the adsorption–desorption threshold to the known results for uniformly charged spherical particles, observing significant disparities. We also contrast the changes to the polyelectrolyte chain conformations close to the surface of the Janus nanoparticles as compared to those for simple spherical particles. Finally, we discuss experimentally relevant physico-chemical systems for which our simulations results may become important. In particular, we observe similar trends with polyelectrolyte complexation with oppositely but heterogeneously charged proteins.

Herein, we report the chain-growth tin-free room temperature polymerization method to synthesize n-type perylene diimide-dithiophene-based conjugated polymers (PPDIT2s) suitable for solar cell and transistor applications. The palladium/electron-rich tri-tert-butylphosphine catalyst is effective to enable the chain-growth polymerization of anion-radical monomer Br-TPDIT-Br/Zn to PPDIT2 with a molecular weight up to Mw ≈ 50 kg mol−1 and moderate polydispersity. This is the second example of the polymerization of unusual anion-radical aromatic complexes formed in a reaction of active Zn and electron-deficient diimide-based aryl halides. As such, the discovered polymerization method is not a specific reactivity feature of the naphthalene-diimide derivatives but is rather a general polymerization tool. This is an important finding, given the significantly higher maximum external quantum efficiency that can be reached with PDI-based copolymers (32–45%) in all-polymer solar cells compared to NDI-based materials (15–30%). Our studies revealed that PPDIT2 synthesized by the new method and the previously published polymer prepared by step-growth Stille polycondensation show similar electron mobility and all-polymer solar cell performance. At the same time, the polymerization reported herein has several technological advantages as it proceeds relatively fast at room temperature and does not involve toxic tin-based compounds. Because several chain-growth polymerization reactions are well-suited for the preparation of well-defined multi-functional polymer architectures, the next target is to explore the utility of the discovered polymerization in the synthesis of end-functionalized polymers and block copolymers. Such materials would be helpful to improve the nanoscale morphology of polymer blends in all-polymer solar cells.

We present a temperature and fluence dependent Ultrafast X-Ray Diffraction study of a laser-heated antiferromagnetic dysprosium thin film. The loss of antiferromagnetic order is evidenced by a pronounced lattice contraction. We devise a method to determine the energy flow between the phonon and spin system from calibrated Bragg peak positions in thermal equilibrium. Reestablishing the magnetic order is much slower than the cooling of the lattice, especially around the Néel temperature. Despite the pronounced magnetostriction, the transfer of energy from the spin system to the phonons in Dy is slow after the spin-order is lost.

The molecular ability to selectively and efficiently convert sunlight into other forms of energy like heat, bond change, or charge separation is truly remarkable. The decisive steps in these transformations often happen on a femtosecond timescale and require transitions among different electronic states that violate the Born-Oppenheimer approximation (BOA). Non-BOA transitions pose challenges to both theory and experiment. From a theoretical point of view, excited state dynamics and nonadiabatic transitions both are difficult problems (see Figure 1(a)). However, the theory on non-BOA dynamics has advanced significantly over the last two decades. Full dynamical simulations for molecules of the size of nucleobases have been possible for a couple of years and allow predictions of experimental observables like photoelectron energy or ion yield. The availability of these calculations for isolated molecules has spurred new experimental efforts to develop methods that are sufficiently different from all optical techniques. For determination of transient molecular structure, femtosecond X-ray diffraction and electron diffraction have been implemented on optically excited molecules.

It is quite generally assumed that the overdamped Langevin equation provides a quantitative description of the dynamics of a classical Brownian particle in the long time limit. We establish and investigate a paradigm anomalous diffusion process governed by an underdamped Langevin equation with an explicit time dependence of the system temperature and thus the diffusion and damping coefficients. We show that for this underdamped scaled Brownian motion (UDSBM) the overdamped limit fails to describe the long time behaviour of the system and may practically even not exist at all for a certain range of the parameter values. Thus persistent inertial effects play a non-negligible role even at significantly long times. From this study a general questions on the applicability of the overdamped limit to describe the long time motion of an anomalously diffusing particle arises, with profound consequences for the relevance of overdamped anomalous diffusion models. We elucidate our results in view of analytical and simulations results for the anomalous diffusion of particles in free cooling granular gases.

We investigate the ensemble and time averaged mean squared displacements for particle diffusion in a simple model for disordered media by assuming that the local diffusivity is both fluctuating in time and has a deterministic average growth or decay in time. In this study we compare computer simulations of the stochastic Langevin equation for this random diffusion process with analytical results. We explore the regimes of normal Brownian motion as well as anomalous diffusion in the sub- and superdiffusive regimes. We also consider effects of the inertial term on the particle motion. The investigation of the resulting diffusion is performed for unconfined and confined motion.

What are the physical laws of the mutual interactions of objects bound to cell membranes, such as various membrane proteins or elongated virus particles? To rationalise this, we here investigate by extensive computer simulations mutual interactions of rod-like particles adsorbed on the surface of responsive elastic two-dimensional sheets. Specifically, we quantify sheet deformations as a response to adhesion of such filamentous particles. We demonstrate that tip-to-tip contacts of rods are favoured for relatively soft sheets, while side-by-side contacts are preferred for stiffer elastic substrates. These attractive orientation-dependent substrate-mediated interactions between the rod-like particles on responsive sheets can drive their aggregation and self-assembly. The optimal orientation of the membrane-bound rods is established via responding to the elastic energy profiles created around the particles. We unveil the phase diagramme of attractive–repulsive rod–rod interactions in the plane of their separation and mutual orientation. Applications of our results to other systems featuring membrane-associated particles are also discussed.

Intracellular photoactivation of caged cGMP induces myosin II and actin responses in motile cells
(2013)

Cyclic GMP (cGMP) is a ubiquitous second messenger in eukaryotic cells. It is assumed to regulate the association of myosin II with the cytoskeleton of motile cells. When cells of the social amoeba Dictyostelium discoideum are exposed to chemoattractants or to increased osmotic stress, intracellular cGMP levels rise, preceding the accumulation of myosin II in the cell cortex. To directly investigate the impact of intracellular cGMP on cytoskeletal dynamics in a living cell, we released cGMP inside the cell by laser-induced photo-cleavage of a caged precursor. With this approach, we could directly show in a live cell experiment that an increase in intracellular cGMP indeed induces myosin II to accumulate in the cortex. Unexpectedly, we observed for the first time that also the amount of filamentous actin in the cell cortex increases upon a rise in the cGMP concentration, independently of cAMP receptor activation and signaling. We discuss our results in the light of recent work on the cGMP signaling pathway and suggest possible links between cGMP signaling and the actin system.

Recombination of free charge is a key process limiting the performance of solar cells. For low mobility materials, such as organic semiconductors, the kinetics of non-geminate recombination (NGR) is strongly linked to the motion of charges. As these materials possess significant disorder, thermalization of photogenerated carriers in the inhomogeneously broadened density of state distribution is an unavoidable process. Despite its general importance, knowledge about the kinetics of NGR in complete organic solar cells is rather limited. We employ time delayed collection field (TDCF) experiments to study the recombination of photogenerated charge in the high-performance polymer:fullerene blend PCDTBT:PCBM. NGR in the bulk of this amorphous blend is shown to be highly dispersive, with a continuous reduction of the recombination coefficient throughout the entire time scale, until all charge carriers have either been extracted or recombined. Rapid, contact-mediated recombination is identified as an additional loss channel, which, if not properly taken into account, would erroneously suggest a pronounced field dependence of charge generation. These findings are in stark contrast to the results of TDCF experiments on photovoltaic devices made from ordered blends, such as P3HT:PCBM, where non-dispersive recombination was proven to dominate the charge carrier dynamics under application relevant conditions.

Compared to their inorganic counterparts, organic semiconductors suffer from relatively low charge carrier mobilities. Therefore, expressions derived for inorganic solar cells to correlate characteristic performance parameters to material properties are prone to fail when applied to organic devices. This is especially true for the classical Shockley-equation commonly used to describe current-voltage (JV)-curves, as it assumes a high electrical conductivity of the charge transporting material. Here, an analytical expression for the JV-curves of organic solar cells is derived based on a previously published analytical model. This expression, bearing a similar functional dependence as the Shockley-equation, delivers a new figure of merit α to express the balance between free charge recombination and extraction in low mobility photoactive materials. This figure of merit is shown to determine critical device parameters such as the apparent series resistance and the fill factor.

The gravitational field of a laser pulse of finite lifetime, is investigated in the framework of linearized gravity. Although the effects are very small, they may be of fundamental physical interest. It is shown that the gravitational field of a linearly polarized light pulse is modulated as the norm of the corresponding electric field strength, while no modulations arise for circular polarization. In general, the gravitational field is independent of the polarization direction. It is shown that all physical effects are confined to spherical shells expanding with the speed of light, and that these shells are imprints of the spacetime events representing emission and absorption of the pulse. Nearby test particles at rest are attracted towards the pulse trajectory by the gravitational field due to the emission of the pulse, and they are repelled from the pulse trajectory by the gravitational field due to its absorption. Examples are given for the size of the attractive effect. It is recovered that massless test particles do not experience any physical effect if they are co-propagating with the pulse, and that the acceleration of massless test particles counter-propagating with respect to the pulse is four times stronger than for massive particles at rest. The similarities between the gravitational effect of a laser pulse and Newtonian gravity in two dimensions are pointed out. The spacetime curvature close to the pulse is compared to that induced by gravitational waves from astronomical sources.

Many chemical reactions in biological cells occur at very low concentrations of constituent molecules. Thus, transcriptional gene-regulation is often controlled by poorly expressed transcription-factors, such as E.coli lac repressor with few tens of copies. Here we study the effects of inherent concentration fluctuations of substrate-molecules on the seminal Michaelis-Menten scheme of biochemical reactions. We present a universal correction to the Michaelis-Menten equation for the reaction-rates. The relevance and validity of this correction for enzymatic reactions and intracellular gene-regulation is demonstrated. Our analytical theory and simulation results confirm that the proposed variance-corrected Michaelis-Menten equation predicts the rate of reactions with remarkable accuracy even in the presence of large non-equilibrium concentration fluctuations. The major advantage of our approach is that it involves only the mean and variance of the substrate-molecule concentration. Our theory is therefore accessible to experiments and not specific to the exact source of the concentration fluctuations.

Recent experiments show that transcription factors (TFs) indeed use the facilitated diffusion mechanism to locate their target sequences on DNA in living bacteria cells: TFs alternate between sliding motion along DNA and relocation events through the cytoplasm. From simulations and theoretical analysis we study the TF-sliding motion for a large section of the DNA-sequence of a common E. coli strain, based on the two-state TF-model with a fast-sliding search state and a recognition state enabling target detection. For the probability to detect the target before dissociating from DNA the TF-search times self-consistently depend heavily on whether or not an auxiliary operator (an accessible sequence similar to the main operator) is present in the genome section. Importantly, within our model the extent to which the interconversion rates between search and recognition states depend on the underlying nucleotide sequence is varied. A moderate dependence maximises the capability to distinguish between the main operator and similar sequences. Moreover, these auxiliary operators serve as starting points for DNA looping with the main operator, yielding a spectrum of target detection times spanning several orders of magnitude. Auxiliary operators are shown to act as funnels facilitating target detection by TFs.

Stochastic Wilson
(2015)

We consider a simple Markovian class of the stochastic Wilson–Cowan type models of neuronal network dynamics, which incorporates stochastic delay caused by the existence of a refractory period of neurons. From the point of view of the dynamics of the individual elements, we are dealing with a network of non-Markovian stochastic two-state oscillators with memory, which are coupled globally in a mean-field fashion. This interrelation of a higher-dimensional Markovian and lower-dimensional non-Markovian dynamics is discussed in its relevance to the general problem of the network dynamics of complex elements possessing memory. The simplest model of this class is provided by a three-state Markovian neuron with one refractory state, which causes firing delay with an exponentially decaying memory within the two-state reduced model. This basic model is used to study critical avalanche dynamics (the noise sustained criticality) in a balanced feedforward network consisting of the excitatory and inhibitory neurons. Such avalanches emerge due to the network size dependent noise (mesoscopic noise). Numerical simulations reveal an intermediate power law in the distribution of avalanche sizes with the critical exponent around −1.16. We show that this power law is robust upon a variation of the refractory time over several orders of magnitude. However, the avalanche time distribution is biexponential. It does not reflect any genuine power law dependence.

We define and study in detail utraslow scaled Brownian motion (USBM) characterized by a time dependent diffusion coefficient of the form . For unconfined motion the mean squared displacement (MSD) of USBM exhibits an ultraslow, logarithmic growth as function of time, in contrast to the conventional scaled Brownian motion. In a harmonic potential the MSD of USBM does not saturate but asymptotically decays inverse-proportionally to time, reflecting the highly non-stationary character of the process. We show that the process is weakly non-ergodic in the sense that the time averaged MSD does not converge to the regular MSD even at long times, and for unconfined motion combines a linear lag time dependence with a logarithmic term. The weakly non-ergodic behaviour is quantified in terms of the ergodicity breaking parameter. The USBM process is also shown to be ageing: observables of the system depend on the time gap between initiation of the test particle and start of the measurement of its motion. Our analytical results are shown to agree excellently with extensive computer simulations.

Molecular motors pulling cargos in the viscoelastic cytosol: how power strokes beat subdiffusion
(2014)

The discovery of anomalous diffusion of larger biopolymers and submicron tracers such as endogenous granules, organelles, or virus capsids in living cells, attributed to the viscoelastic nature of the cytoplasm, provokes the question whether this complex environment equally impacts the active intracellular transport of submicron cargos by molecular motors such as kinesins: does the passive anomalous diffusion of free cargo always imply its anomalously slow active transport by motors, the mean transport distance along microtubule growing sublinearly rather than linearly in time? Here we analyze this question within the widely used two-state Brownian ratchet model of kinesin motors based on the continuous-state diffusion along microtubules driven by a flashing binding potential, where the cargo particle is elastically attached to the motor. Depending on the cargo size, the loading force, the amplitude of the binding potential, the turnover frequency of the molecular motor enzyme, and the linker stiffness we demonstrate that the motor transport may turn out either normal or anomalous, as indeed measured experimentally. We show how a highly efficient normal active transport mediated by motors may emerge despite the passive anomalous diffusion of the cargo, and study the intricate effects of the elastic linker. Under different, well specified conditions the microtubule-based motor transport becomes anomalously slow and thus significantly less efficient.

Anomalous diffusion is frequently described by scaled Brownian motion (SBM){,} a Gaussian process with a power-law time dependent diffusion coefficient. Its mean squared displacement is ?x2(t)? [similar{,} equals] 2K(t)t with K(t) [similar{,} equals] t[small alpha]-1 for 0 < [small alpha] < 2. SBM may provide a seemingly adequate description in the case of unbounded diffusion{,} for which its probability density function coincides with that of fractional Brownian motion. Here we show that free SBM is weakly non-ergodic but does not exhibit a significant amplitude scatter of the time averaged mean squared displacement. More severely{,} we demonstrate that under confinement{,} the dynamics encoded by SBM is fundamentally different from both fractional Brownian motion and continuous time random walks. SBM is highly non-stationary and cannot provide a physical description for particles in a thermalised stationary system. Our findings have direct impact on the modelling of single particle tracking experiments{,} in particular{,} under confinement inside cellular compartments or when optical tweezers tracking methods are used.

Probably no other field of statistical physics at the borderline of soft matter and biological physics has caused such a flurry of papers as polymer translocation since the 1994 landmark paper by Bezrukov, Vodyanoy, and Parsegian and the study of Kasianowicz in 1996. Experiments, simulations, and theoretical approaches are still contributing novel insights to date, while no universal consensus on the statistical understanding of polymer translocation has been reached. We here collect the published results, in particular, the famous–infamous debate on the scaling exponents governing the translocation process. We put these results into perspective and discuss where the field is going. In particular, we argue that the phenomenon of polymer translocation is non-universal and highly sensitive to the exact specifications of the models and experiments used towards its analysis.

Diffusion of finite-size particles in two-dimensional channels with random wall configurations
(2014)

Diffusion of chemicals or tracer molecules through complex systems containing irregularly shaped channels is important in many applications. Most theoretical studies based on the famed Fick–Jacobs equation focus on the idealised case of infinitely small particles and reflecting boundaries. In this study we use numerical simulations to consider the transport of finite-size particles through asymmetrical two-dimensional channels. Additionally, we examine transient binding of the molecules to the channel walls by applying sticky boundary conditions. We consider an ensemble of particles diffusing in independent channels, which are characterised by common structural parameters. We compare our results for the long-time effective diffusion coefficient with a recent theoretical formula obtained by Dagdug and Pineda [J. Chem. Phys., 2012, 137, 024107].

We present an approach to generate (multivariate) twin surrogates (TS) based on recurrence properties. This technique generates surrogates which correspond to an independent copy of the underlying system, i. e. they induce a trajectory of the underlying system starting at different initial conditions. We show that these surrogates are well suited to test for complex synchronisation and exemplify this for the paradigmatic system of R¨ossler oscillators. The proposed test enables to assess the statistical relevance of a synchronisation analysis from passive experiments which are typical in natural systems.

In this paper we present an approach to recover the dynamics from recurrences of a system and then generate (multivariate) twin surrogate (TS) trajectories. In contrast to other approaches, such as the linear-like surrogates, this technique produces surrogates which correspond to an independent copy of the underlying system, i. e. they induce a trajectory of the underlying system visiting the attractor in a different way. We show that these surrogates are well suited to test for complex synchronization, which makes it possible to systematically assess the reliability of synchronization analyses. We then apply the TS to study binocular fixational movements and find strong indications that the fixational movements of the left and right eye are phase synchronized. This result indicates that there might be one centre only in the brain that produces the fixational movements in both eyes or a close link between two centres.

Many cellular processes require decision making mechanisms, which must act reliably even in the unavoidable presence of substantial amounts of noise. However, the multistable genetic switches that underlie most decision-making processes are dominated by fluctuations that can induce random jumps between alternative cellular states. Here we show, via theoretical modeling of a population of noise-driven bistable genetic switches, that reliable timing of decision-making processes can be accomplished for large enough population sizes, as long as cells are globally coupled by chemical means. In the light of these results, we conjecture that cell proliferation, in the presence of cell-cell communication, could provide a mechanism for reliable decision making in the presence of noise, by triggering cellular transitions only when the whole cell population reaches a certain size. In other words , the summation performed by the cell population would average out the noise and reduce its detrimental impact.