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Kosmos
Astronomia Astrofizyka
Inne

Kultura
Sztuka dawna i współczesna, muzea i kolekcje

Metoda
Metodologia nauk, Matematyka, Filozofia, Miary i wagi, Pomiary

Materia
Substancje, reakcje, energia
Fizyka, chemia i inżynieria materiałowa

Człowiek
Antropologia kulturowa Socjologia Psychologia Zdrowie i medycyna

Wizje
Przewidywania Kosmologia Religie Ideologia Polityka

Ziemia
Geologia, geofizyka, geochemia, środowisko przyrodnicze

Życie
Biologia, biologia molekularna i genetyka

Cyberprzestrzeń
Technologia cyberprzestrzeni, cyberkultura, media i komunikacja

Działalność
Wiadomości | Gospodarka, biznes, zarządzanie, ekonomia

Technologie
Budownictwo, energetyka, transport, wytwarzanie, technologie informacyjne

Czasopisma z MDPI

Wydawnictwo MDPI publikuje czasopisma Open Access.

Nuclear receptors (NRs) are closely associated with various major diseases such as cancer, diabetes, inflammatory disease, and osteoporosis. Therefore, NRs have become a frequent target for drug development. During the process of developing drugs against these diseases by targeting NRs, we are often facing a problem: Given a NR and chemical compound, can we identify whether they are really in interaction with each other in a cell? To address this problem, a predictor called “iNR-Drug” was developed. In the predictor, the drug compound concerned was formulated by a 256-D (dimensional) vector derived from its molecular fingerprint, and the NR by a 500-D vector formed by incorporating its sequential evolution information and physicochemical features into the general form of pseudo amino acid composition, and the prediction engine was operated by the SVM (support vector machine) algorithm. Compared with the existing prediction methods in this area, iNR-Drug not only can yield a higher success rate, but is also featured by a user-friendly web-server established at http://www.jci-bioinfo.cn/iNR-Drug/, which is particularly useful for most experimental scientists to obtain their desired data in a timely manner. It is anticipated that the iNR-Drug server may become a useful high throughput tool for both basic research and drug development, and that the current approach may be easily extended to study the interactions of drug with other targets as well.

http://www.mdpi.com/1422-0067/15/3/4915 2014/03/22 - 18:26

Infrastructure degradation in many post-industrial cities has increased the availability of potential mosquito habitats, including container habitats that support infestations of invasive disease-vectors. This study is unique in examining both immature and adult mosquito abundance across the fine-scale variability in socio-economic condition that occurs block-to-block in many cities. We hypothesized that abundant garbage associated with infrastructure degradation would support greater mosquito production but instead, found more mosquito larvae and host-seeking adults (86%) in parcels across the higher socio-economic, low-decay block. Aedes albopictus and Culex pipiens were 5.61 (p < 0.001) and 4.60 (p = 0.001) times more abundant, respectively. Most discarded (garbage) containers were dry during peak mosquito production, which occurred during the 5th hottest July on record. Containers associated with human residence were more likely to hold water and contain immature mosquitoes. We propose that mosquito production switches from rain-fed unmanaged containers early in the season to container habitats that are purposefully shaded or watered by mid-season. This study suggests that residents living in higher socioeconomic areas with low urban decay may be at greater risk of mosquito-borne disease during peak mosquito production when local container habitats are effectively decoupled from environmental constraints.

http://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/11/3/3256 2014/03/22 - 18:26

Infrastructure degradation in many post-industrial cities has increased the availability of potential mosquito habitats, including container habitats that support infestations of invasive disease-vectors. This study is unique in examining both immature and adult mosquito abundance across the fine-scale variability in socio-economic condition that occurs block-to-block in many cities. We hypothesized that abundant garbage associated with infrastructure degradation would support greater mosquito production but instead, found more mosquito larvae and host-seeking adults (86%) in parcels across the higher socio-economic, low-decay block. Aedes albopictus and Culex pipiens were 5.61 (p < 0.001) and 4.60 (p = 0.001) times more abundant, respectively. Most discarded (garbage) containers were dry during peak mosquito production, which occurred during the 5th hottest July on record. Containers associated with human residence were more likely to hold water and contain immature mosquitoes. We propose that mosquito production switches from rain-fed unmanaged containers early in the season to container habitats that are purposefully shaded or watered by mid-season. This study suggests that residents living in higher socioeconomic areas with low urban decay may be at greater risk of mosquito-borne disease during peak mosquito production when local container habitats are effectively decoupled from environmental constraints.

http://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/11/3/3256 2014/03/22 - 18:26

There is an arising and concerning issue in the field of bacterial resistance, which is confirmed by the number of deaths associated with drug-resistant bacterial infections. The aim of this study was to compare the effects of antibiotics on Staphylococcus aureus non-resistant strain and strains resistant to cadmium or lead ions. Metal resistant strains were created by the gradual addition of 2 mM solution of metal ions (cadmium or lead) to the S. aureus culture. An increasing antimicrobial effect of ampicillin, streptomycin, penicillin and tetracycline (0, 10, 25, 50, 75, 150, 225 and 300 µM) on the resistant strains was observed using a method of growth curves. A significant growth inhibition (compared to control) of cadmium resistant cells was observed in the presence of all the four different antibiotics. On the other hand, the addition of streptomycin and ampicillin did not inhibit the growth of lead resistant strain. Other antibiotics were still toxic to the bacterial cells. Significant differences in the morphology of cell walls were indicated by changes in the cell shape. Our data show that the presence of metal ions in the urban environment may contribute to the development of bacterial strain resistance to other substances including antibiotics, which would have an impact on public health.

http://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/11/3/3233 2014/03/22 - 18:26

There is an arising and concerning issue in the field of bacterial resistance, which is confirmed by the number of deaths associated with drug-resistant bacterial infections. The aim of this study was to compare the effects of antibiotics on Staphylococcus aureus non-resistant strain and strains resistant to cadmium or lead ions. Metal resistant strains were created by the gradual addition of 2 mM solution of metal ions (cadmium or lead) to the S. aureus culture. An increasing antimicrobial effect of ampicillin, streptomycin, penicillin and tetracycline (0, 10, 25, 50, 75, 150, 225 and 300 µM) on the resistant strains was observed using a method of growth curves. A significant growth inhibition (compared to control) of cadmium resistant cells was observed in the presence of all the four different antibiotics. On the other hand, the addition of streptomycin and ampicillin did not inhibit the growth of lead resistant strain. Other antibiotics were still toxic to the bacterial cells. Significant differences in the morphology of cell walls were indicated by changes in the cell shape. Our data show that the presence of metal ions in the urban environment may contribute to the development of bacterial strain resistance to other substances including antibiotics, which would have an impact on public health.

http://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/11/3/3233 2014/03/22 - 18:26

The treatment of catechol via biocatalysis and adsorption with a commercial laccase immobilized on polyacrylonitrile/montmorillonite/graphene oxide (PAN/MMT/GO) composite nanofibers was evaluated with a homemade nanofibrous membrane reactor. The properties in this process of the immobilized laccase on PAN, PAN/MMT as well as PAN/MMT/GO with different weight ratios of MMT and GO were investigated. These membranes were successfully applied for removal of catechol from an aqueous solution. Scanning electron microscope images revealed different morphologies of the enzyme aggregates on different supports. After incorporation of MMT or MMT/GO, the optimum pH showed an alkaline shift to 4, compared to 3.5 for laccase immobilized on pure PAN nanofibers. The optimum temperature was at 55 °C for all the immobilized enzymes. Besides, the addition of GO improved the operational stability and storage stability. A 39% ± 2.23% chemical oxygen demand (COD) removal from the catechol aqueous solution was achieved. Experimental results suggested that laccase, PAN, adsorbent nanoparticles (MMT/GO) can be combined together for catechol treatment in industrial applications.

http://www.mdpi.com/1420-3049/19/3/3376 2014/03/22 - 18:26

The treatment of catechol via biocatalysis and adsorption with a commercial laccase immobilized on polyacrylonitrile/montmorillonite/graphene oxide (PAN/MMT/GO) composite nanofibers was evaluated with a homemade nanofibrous membrane reactor. The properties in this process of the immobilized laccase on PAN, PAN/MMT as well as PAN/MMT/GO with different weight ratios of MMT and GO were investigated. These membranes were successfully applied for removal of catechol from an aqueous solution. Scanning electron microscope images revealed different morphologies of the enzyme aggregates on different supports. After incorporation of MMT or MMT/GO, the optimum pH showed an alkaline shift to 4, compared to 3.5 for laccase immobilized on pure PAN nanofibers. The optimum temperature was at 55 °C for all the immobilized enzymes. Besides, the addition of GO improved the operational stability and storage stability. A 39% ± 2.23% chemical oxygen demand (COD) removal from the catechol aqueous solution was achieved. Experimental results suggested that laccase, PAN, adsorbent nanoparticles (MMT/GO) can be combined together for catechol treatment in industrial applications.

http://www.mdpi.com/1420-3049/19/3/3376 2014/03/22 - 18:26

Incomplete chemotherapeutic eradication of leukemic CD34+CD38− stem cells is likely to result in disease relapse. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effect of nilotinib on eradicating leukemia stem cells and enhancing the efficacy of chemotherapeutic agents. Our results showed that ABCB1 and ABCG2 were preferentially expressed in leukemic CD34+CD38− cells. Nilotinib significantly enhanced the cytotoxicity of doxorubicin and mitoxantrone in CD34+CD38− cells and led to increased apoptosis. Moreover, nilotinib strongly reversed multidrug resistance and increased the intracellular accumulation of rhodamine 123 in primary leukemic blasts overexpressing ABCB1 and/or ABCG2. Studies with ABC transporter-overexpressing carcinoma cell models confirmed that nilotinib effectively reversed ABCB1- and ABCG2-mediated drug resistance, while showed no significant reversal effect on ABCC1- and ABCC4-mediated drug resistance. Results from cytotoxicity assays showed that CD34+CD38− cells exhibited moderate resistance (2.41-fold) to nilotinib, compared with parental K562 cells. Furthermore, nilotinib was less effective in blocking the phosphorylation of Bcr-Abl and CrkL (a substrate of Bcr-Abl kinase) in CD34+CD38− cells. Taken together, these data suggest that nilotinib particularly targets CD34+CD38− stem cells and MDR leukemia cells, and effectively enhances the efficacy of chemotherapeutic drugs by blocking the efflux function of ABC transporters.

http://www.mdpi.com/1420-3049/19/3/3356 2014/03/22 - 18:26

Incomplete chemotherapeutic eradication of leukemic CD34+CD38− stem cells is likely to result in disease relapse. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effect of nilotinib on eradicating leukemia stem cells and enhancing the efficacy of chemotherapeutic agents. Our results showed that ABCB1 and ABCG2 were preferentially expressed in leukemic CD34+CD38− cells. Nilotinib significantly enhanced the cytotoxicity of doxorubicin and mitoxantrone in CD34+CD38− cells and led to increased apoptosis. Moreover, nilotinib strongly reversed multidrug resistance and increased the intracellular accumulation of rhodamine 123 in primary leukemic blasts overexpressing ABCB1 and/or ABCG2. Studies with ABC transporter-overexpressing carcinoma cell models confirmed that nilotinib effectively reversed ABCB1- and ABCG2-mediated drug resistance, while showed no significant reversal effect on ABCC1- and ABCC4-mediated drug resistance. Results from cytotoxicity assays showed that CD34+CD38− cells exhibited moderate resistance (2.41-fold) to nilotinib, compared with parental K562 cells. Furthermore, nilotinib was less effective in blocking the phosphorylation of Bcr-Abl and CrkL (a substrate of Bcr-Abl kinase) in CD34+CD38− cells. Taken together, these data suggest that nilotinib particularly targets CD34+CD38− stem cells and MDR leukemia cells, and effectively enhances the efficacy of chemotherapeutic drugs by blocking the efflux function of ABC transporters.

http://www.mdpi.com/1420-3049/19/3/3356 2014/03/22 - 18:26

It is difficult to observe the molecular choreography between viruses and host cell components, as they exist on a spatial scale beyond the reach of conventional microscopy. However, novel super-resolution microscopy techniques have cast aside technical limitations to reveal a nanoscale view of virus replication and cell biology. This article provides an introduction to super-resolution imaging; in particular, localisation microscopy, and explores the application of such technologies to the study of viruses and tetraspanins, the topic of this special issue.

http://www.mdpi.com/1999-4915/6/3/1365 2014/03/22 - 18:26

It is difficult to observe the molecular choreography between viruses and host cell components, as they exist on a spatial scale beyond the reach of conventional microscopy. However, novel super-resolution microscopy techniques have cast aside technical limitations to reveal a nanoscale view of virus replication and cell biology. This article provides an introduction to super-resolution imaging; in particular, localisation microscopy, and explores the application of such technologies to the study of viruses and tetraspanins, the topic of this special issue.

http://www.mdpi.com/1999-4915/6/3/1365 2014/03/22 - 18:26

Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) is the major viral cause of congenital infection and birth defects. Primary maternal infection often results in virus transmission, and symptomatic babies can have permanent neurological deficiencies and deafness. Congenital infection can also lead to intrauterine growth restriction, a defect in placental transport. HCMV replicates in primary cytotrophoblasts (CTBs), the specialized cells of the placenta, and inhibits differentiation/invasion. Human trophoblast progenitor cells (TBPCs) give rise to the mature cell types of the chorionic villi, CTBs and multi-nucleated syncytiotrophoblasts (STBs). Here we report that TBPCs are fully permissive for pathogenic and attenuated HCMV strains. Studies with a mutant virus lacking a functional pentamer complex (gH/gL/pUL128-131A) showed that virion entry into TBPCs is independent of the pentamer. In addition, infection is blocked by a potent human neutralizing monoclonal antibody (mAb), TRL345, reactive with glycoprotein B (gB), but not mAbs to the pentamer proteins pUL130/pUL131A. Functional studies revealed that neutralization of infection preserved the capacity of TBPCs to differentiate and assemble into trophospheres composed of CTBs and STBs in vitro. Our results indicate that mAbs to gB protect trophoblast progenitors of the placenta and could be included in antibody treatments developed to suppress congenital infection and prevent disease.

http://www.mdpi.com/1999-4915/6/3/1346 2014/03/22 - 18:26

Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) is the major viral cause of congenital infection and birth defects. Primary maternal infection often results in virus transmission, and symptomatic babies can have permanent neurological deficiencies and deafness. Congenital infection can also lead to intrauterine growth restriction, a defect in placental transport. HCMV replicates in primary cytotrophoblasts (CTBs), the specialized cells of the placenta, and inhibits differentiation/invasion. Human trophoblast progenitor cells (TBPCs) give rise to the mature cell types of the chorionic villi, CTBs and multi-nucleated syncytiotrophoblasts (STBs). Here we report that TBPCs are fully permissive for pathogenic and attenuated HCMV strains. Studies with a mutant virus lacking a functional pentamer complex (gH/gL/pUL128-131A) showed that virion entry into TBPCs is independent of the pentamer. In addition, infection is blocked by a potent human neutralizing monoclonal antibody (mAb), TRL345, reactive with glycoprotein B (gB), but not mAbs to the pentamer proteins pUL130/pUL131A. Functional studies revealed that neutralization of infection preserved the capacity of TBPCs to differentiate and assemble into trophospheres composed of CTBs and STBs in vitro. Our results indicate that mAbs to gB protect trophoblast progenitors of the placenta and could be included in antibody treatments developed to suppress congenital infection and prevent disease.

http://www.mdpi.com/1999-4915/6/3/1346 2014/03/22 - 18:26

Hurricane Sandy inflicted heavy damage in New York City and the New Jersey coast as the second costliest storm in history. A large-scale, unstructured grid storm tide model, Semi-implicit Eulerian Lagrangian Finite Element (SELFE), was used to hindcast water level variation during Hurricane Sandy in the mid-Atlantic portion of the U.S. East Coast. The model was forced by eight tidal constituents at the model’s open boundary, 1500 km away from the coast, and the wind and pressure fields from atmospheric model Regional Atmospheric Modeling System (RAMS) provided by Weatherflow Inc. The comparisons of the modeled storm tide with the NOAA gauge stations from Montauk, NY, Long Island Sound, encompassing New York Harbor, Atlantic City, NJ, to Duck, NC, were in good agreement, with an overall root mean square error and relative error in the order of 15–20 cm and 5%–7%, respectively. Furthermore, using large-scale model outputs as the boundary conditions, a separate sub-grid model that incorporates LIDAR data for the major portion of the New York City was also set up to investigate the detailed inundation process. The model results compared favorably with USGS’ Hurricane Sandy Mapper database in terms of its timing, local inundation area, and the depth of the flooding water. The street-level inundation with water bypassing the city building was created and the maximum extent of horizontal inundation was calculated, which was within 30 m of the data-derived estimate by USGS.

http://www.mdpi.com/2077-1312/2/1/226 2014/03/22 - 18:26

Hurricane Sandy inflicted heavy damage in New York City and the New Jersey coast as the second costliest storm in history. A large-scale, unstructured grid storm tide model, Semi-implicit Eulerian Lagrangian Finite Element (SELFE), was used to hindcast water level variation during Hurricane Sandy in the mid-Atlantic portion of the U.S. East Coast. The model was forced by eight tidal constituents at the model’s open boundary, 1500 km away from the coast, and the wind and pressure fields from atmospheric model Regional Atmospheric Modeling System (RAMS) provided by Weatherflow Inc. The comparisons of the modeled storm tide with the NOAA gauge stations from Montauk, NY, Long Island Sound, encompassing New York Harbor, Atlantic City, NJ, to Duck, NC, were in good agreement, with an overall root mean square error and relative error in the order of 15–20 cm and 5%–7%, respectively. Furthermore, using large-scale model outputs as the boundary conditions, a separate sub-grid model that incorporates LIDAR data for the major portion of the New York City was also set up to investigate the detailed inundation process. The model results compared favorably with USGS’ Hurricane Sandy Mapper database in terms of its timing, local inundation area, and the depth of the flooding water. The street-level inundation with water bypassing the city building was created and the maximum extent of horizontal inundation was calculated, which was within 30 m of the data-derived estimate by USGS.

http://www.mdpi.com/2077-1312/2/1/226 2014/03/22 - 18:26

The 3-D unstructured-grid, Finite-Volume Coastal Ocean Model (FVCOM) was used to simulate the flows in Discovery Passage including the adjoining Lower Campbell River, British Columbia, Canada. Challenges in the studies include the strong tidal currents (e.g., up to 7.8 m/s in Seymour Narrows) and tailrace discharges, small-scale topographic features and steep bottom slopes, and stratification affected by the Campbell River freshwater discharges. Two applications of high resolution 3-D FVCOM modeling were conducted. One is for the Lower Campbell River extending upstream as far as the John Hart Hydroelectric dam. The horizontal resolution varies from 0.27 m to 32 m in the unstructured triangular mesh to resolve the tailrace flow. The bottom elevation decreases ~14 m within the distance of ~1.4 km along the river. This pioneering FVCOM river modeling demonstrated a very good performance in simulating the river flow structures. The second application is to compute ocean currents immediately above the seabed along the present underwater electrical cable crossing routes across Discovery Passage. Higher resolution was used near the bottom with inter-layer spacing ranging from 0.125 to 0.0005 of total water depth. The model behaves very well in simulating the strong tidal currents in the area at high resolution in both the horizontal and vertical. One year maximum near bottom tidal current along the routes was then analyzed using the model results.

http://www.mdpi.com/2077-1312/2/1/209 2014/03/22 - 18:26

The 3-D unstructured-grid, Finite-Volume Coastal Ocean Model (FVCOM) was used to simulate the flows in Discovery Passage including the adjoining Lower Campbell River, British Columbia, Canada. Challenges in the studies include the strong tidal currents (e.g., up to 7.8 m/s in Seymour Narrows) and tailrace discharges, small-scale topographic features and steep bottom slopes, and stratification affected by the Campbell River freshwater discharges. Two applications of high resolution 3-D FVCOM modeling were conducted. One is for the Lower Campbell River extending upstream as far as the John Hart Hydroelectric dam. The horizontal resolution varies from 0.27 m to 32 m in the unstructured triangular mesh to resolve the tailrace flow. The bottom elevation decreases ~14 m within the distance of ~1.4 km along the river. This pioneering FVCOM river modeling demonstrated a very good performance in simulating the river flow structures. The second application is to compute ocean currents immediately above the seabed along the present underwater electrical cable crossing routes across Discovery Passage. Higher resolution was used near the bottom with inter-layer spacing ranging from 0.125 to 0.0005 of total water depth. The model behaves very well in simulating the strong tidal currents in the area at high resolution in both the horizontal and vertical. One year maximum near bottom tidal current along the routes was then analyzed using the model results.

http://www.mdpi.com/2077-1312/2/1/209 2014/03/22 - 18:26

An infrastructure for earth science data is emerging across the globe based on common data models and web services. As we evolve from custom file formats and web sites to standards-based web services and tools, data is becoming easier to distribute, find and retrieve, leaving more time for science. We describe recent advances that make it easier for ocean model providers to share their data, and for users to search, access, analyze and visualize ocean data using MATLAB® and Python®. These include a technique for modelers to create aggregated, Climate and Forecast (CF) metadata convention datasets from collections of non-standard Network Common Data Form (NetCDF) output files, the capability to remotely access data from CF-1.6-compliant NetCDF files using the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) Sensor Observation Service (SOS), a metadata standard for unstructured grid model output (UGRID), and tools that utilize both CF and UGRID standards to allow interoperable data search, browse and access. We use examples from the U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS®) Coastal and Ocean Modeling Testbed, a project in which modelers using both structured and unstructured grid model output needed to share their results, to compare their results with other models, and to compare models with observed data. The same techniques used here for ocean modeling output can be applied to atmospheric and climate model output, remote sensing data, digital terrain and bathymetric data.

http://www.mdpi.com/2077-1312/2/1/194 2014/03/22 - 18:26

An infrastructure for earth science data is emerging across the globe based on common data models and web services. As we evolve from custom file formats and web sites to standards-based web services and tools, data is becoming easier to distribute, find and retrieve, leaving more time for science. We describe recent advances that make it easier for ocean model providers to share their data, and for users to search, access, analyze and visualize ocean data using MATLAB® and Python®. These include a technique for modelers to create aggregated, Climate and Forecast (CF) metadata convention datasets from collections of non-standard Network Common Data Form (NetCDF) output files, the capability to remotely access data from CF-1.6-compliant NetCDF files using the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) Sensor Observation Service (SOS), a metadata standard for unstructured grid model output (UGRID), and tools that utilize both CF and UGRID standards to allow interoperable data search, browse and access. We use examples from the U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS®) Coastal and Ocean Modeling Testbed, a project in which modelers using both structured and unstructured grid model output needed to share their results, to compare their results with other models, and to compare models with observed data. The same techniques used here for ocean modeling output can be applied to atmospheric and climate model output, remote sensing data, digital terrain and bathymetric data.

http://www.mdpi.com/2077-1312/2/1/194 2014/03/22 - 18:26

We welcome Sheppard’s comments on our recent assessment of both ecological and geomorphic change at Diego Garcia Atoll in the central Indian Ocean [1]. Whilst our assessment incorporated numerous aspects of change, including movements of the lagoon rim shorelines, changes in the terrestrial vegetation on the lagoon rim and amendments to the bathymetry of the lagoon basin through dredging activities [2], this comment solely addresses the estimates of shoreline change. Here we make some brief remarks relating to this shoreline assessment of Diego Garcia and elaborate on some of the complexities of the geomorphic processes that underpin shoreline dynamics. These complexities have important implications for understanding reef island shoreline dynamics, both at this site and globally.

http://www.mdpi.com/2072-4292/6/3/2468 2014/03/22 - 18:26

We welcome Sheppard’s comments on our recent assessment of both ecological and geomorphic change at Diego Garcia Atoll in the central Indian Ocean [1]. Whilst our assessment incorporated numerous aspects of change, including movements of the lagoon rim shorelines, changes in the terrestrial vegetation on the lagoon rim and amendments to the bathymetry of the lagoon basin through dredging activities [2], this comment solely addresses the estimates of shoreline change. Here we make some brief remarks relating to this shoreline assessment of Diego Garcia and elaborate on some of the complexities of the geomorphic processes that underpin shoreline dynamics. These complexities have important implications for understanding reef island shoreline dynamics, both at this site and globally.

http://www.mdpi.com/2072-4292/6/3/2468 2014/03/22 - 18:26

Hamylton and East [1] reported a remarkably substantial expansion and accretion of land since the 1960s at numerous sites along the island of Diego Garcia atoll. This atoll has a near continuous rim encircling its lagoon, and they reported that the width of the island rim has expanded by several tens of metres in many places. Those results contrast markedly with my own near-annual observations on the ground where erosion and increased seawater inundation, rather than land accretion, is evident in many places. Hamylton and East have never visited the atoll but their results have been picked up for various reasons. Therefore I note possible reasons for the substantial discrepancy between their measurements and my own observations, and propose a resolution.

http://www.mdpi.com/2072-4292/6/3/2463 2014/03/22 - 18:26

This paper presents a novel approach for automated image comparison and robust change detection from noisy imagery, such as synthetic aperture radar (SAR) amplitude images. Instead of comparing pixel values and/or pre-classified features this approach clearly highlights structural changes without any preceding segmentation or classification step. The crucial point is the use of the Curvelet transform in order to express the image as composition of several structures instead of numerous individual pixels. Differentiating these structures and weighting their impact according to the image statistics produces a smooth, but detail-preserved change image. The Curvelet-based approach is validated by the standard technique for SAR change detection, the log-ratio with and without additional gamma maximum-a-posteriori (GMAP) speckle filtering, and by the results of human interpreters. The validation proves that the new technique can easily compete with these automated as well as visual interpretation techniques. Finally, a sequence of TerraSAR-X High Resolution Spotlight images of a factory building construction site near Ludwigshafen (Germany) is processed in order to identify single construction stages by the time of the (dis-)appearance of certain objects. Hence, the complete construction monitoring of the whole building and its surroundings becomes feasible.

http://www.mdpi.com/2072-4292/6/3/2435 2014/03/22 - 18:26

The room temperature deposition of self-assembling silica nanoparticles onto D-shaped optical fibres (“D-fibre”), drawn from milled preforms fabricated by modified chemical vapour deposition (MCVD), is studied. Vertical dip-and-withdraw produces tapered layers, with one end thicker (surface coverage >0.85) than the other, whilst horizontal dip-and-withdraw produces much more uniform layers over the core region. The propagation of induced fracturing over the core region during drying is overcome using a simple protrusion of the inner cladding. Thick coatings are discernible through thin film interference colouring, but thinner coatings require scanning electron microscopy (SEM) imaging. Here, we show that fluorescence imaging, using Rhodamine B, in this example, can provide some qualitative and speedy assessment of coverage.

http://www.mdpi.com/1996-1944/7/3/2356 2014/03/22 - 18:26

The room temperature deposition of self-assembling silica nanoparticles onto D-shaped optical fibres (“D-fibre”), drawn from milled preforms fabricated by modified chemical vapour deposition (MCVD), is studied. Vertical dip-and-withdraw produces tapered layers, with one end thicker (surface coverage >0.85) than the other, whilst horizontal dip-and-withdraw produces much more uniform layers over the core region. The propagation of induced fracturing over the core region during drying is overcome using a simple protrusion of the inner cladding. Thick coatings are discernible through thin film interference colouring, but thinner coatings require scanning electron microscopy (SEM) imaging. Here, we show that fluorescence imaging, using Rhodamine B, in this example, can provide some qualitative and speedy assessment of coverage.

http://www.mdpi.com/1996-1944/7/3/2356 2014/03/22 - 18:26

A series of nickel-containing mesoporous silica samples (Ni-SiO2) with different nickel content (3.1%–13.2%) were synthesized by the evaporation-induced self-assembly method. Their catalytic activity was tested in carbon dioxide reforming of methane. The characterization results revealed that the catalysts, e.g., 6.7%Ni-SiO2, with highly dispersed small nickel particles, exhibited excellent catalytic activity and long-term stability. The metallic nickel particle size was significantly affected by the metal anchoring effect between metallic nickel particles and unreduced nickel ions in the silica matrix. A strong anchoring effect was suggested to account for the remaining of small Ni particle size and the improved catalytic performance.

http://www.mdpi.com/1996-1944/7/3/2340 2014/03/22 - 18:26

The performance of strained silicon (Si) as the channel material for today’s metal-oxide-semiconductor field-effect transistors may be reaching a plateau. New channel materials with high carrier mobility are being investigated as alternatives and have the potential to unlock an era of ultra-low-power and high-speed microelectronic devices. Chief among these new materials is germanium (Ge). This work reviews the two major remaining challenges that Ge based devices must overcome if they are to replace Si as the channel material, namely, heterogeneous integration of Ge on Si substrates, and developing a suitable gate stack. Next, Ge is compared to compound III-V materials in terms of p-channel device performance to review how it became the first choice for PMOS devices. Different Ge device architectures, including surface channel and quantum well configurations, are reviewed. Finally, state-of-the-art Ge device results and future prospects are also discussed.

http://www.mdpi.com/1996-1944/7/3/2301 2014/03/22 - 18:26

It is increasingly obvious that the molecular conformations and the long-range arrangement that conjugated polymers can adopt under various experimental conditions in bulk, solutions or thin films, significantly impact their resulting optoelectronic properties. As a consequence, the functionalities and efficiencies of resulting organic devices, such as field-effect transistors, light-emitting diodes, or photovoltaic cells, also dramatically change due to the close structure/property relationship. A range of structure/optoelectronic properties relationships have been investigated over the last few years using various experimental and theoretical methods, and, further, interesting correlations are continuously revealed by the scientific community. In this review, we discuss the latest findings related to the structure/optoelectronic properties interrelationships that exist in organic devices fabricated with conjugated polymers in terms of charge mobility, absorption, photoluminescence, as well as photovoltaic properties.

http://www.mdpi.com/1996-1944/7/3/2273 2014/03/22 - 18:26

It is increasingly obvious that the molecular conformations and the long-range arrangement that conjugated polymers can adopt under various experimental conditions in bulk, solutions or thin films, significantly impact their resulting optoelectronic properties. As a consequence, the functionalities and efficiencies of resulting organic devices, such as field-effect transistors, light-emitting diodes, or photovoltaic cells, also dramatically change due to the close structure/property relationship. A range of structure/optoelectronic properties relationships have been investigated over the last few years using various experimental and theoretical methods, and, further, interesting correlations are continuously revealed by the scientific community. In this review, we discuss the latest findings related to the structure/optoelectronic properties interrelationships that exist in organic devices fabricated with conjugated polymers in terms of charge mobility, absorption, photoluminescence, as well as photovoltaic properties.

http://www.mdpi.com/1996-1944/7/3/2273 2014/03/22 - 18:26

In this work; a response surface methodology (RSM) was implemented to investigate the process variables in a hydrogen production system. The effects of five independent variables; namely the temperature (X1); the flow rate (X2); the catalyst weight (X3); the catalyst loading (X4) and the glycerol-water molar ratio (X5) on the H2 yield (Y1) and the conversion of glycerol to gaseous products (Y2) were explored. Using multiple regression analysis; the experimental results of the H2 yield and the glycerol conversion to gases were fit to quadratic polynomial models. The proposed mathematical models have correlated the dependent factors well within the limits that were being examined. The best values of the process variables were a temperature of approximately 600 °C; a feed flow rate of 0.05 mL/min; a catalyst weight of 0.2 g; a catalyst loading of 20% and a glycerol-water molar ratio of approximately 12; where the H2 yield was predicted to be 57.6% and the conversion of glycerol was predicted to be 75%. To validate the proposed models; statistical analysis using a two-sample t-test was performed; and the results showed that the models could predict the responses satisfactorily within the limits of the variables that were studied.

http://www.mdpi.com/1996-1944/7/3/2257 2014/03/22 - 18:26

In this work; a response surface methodology (RSM) was implemented to investigate the process variables in a hydrogen production system. The effects of five independent variables; namely the temperature (X1); the flow rate (X2); the catalyst weight (X3); the catalyst loading (X4) and the glycerol-water molar ratio (X5) on the H2 yield (Y1) and the conversion of glycerol to gaseous products (Y2) were explored. Using multiple regression analysis; the experimental results of the H2 yield and the glycerol conversion to gases were fit to quadratic polynomial models. The proposed mathematical models have correlated the dependent factors well within the limits that were being examined. The best values of the process variables were a temperature of approximately 600 °C; a feed flow rate of 0.05 mL/min; a catalyst weight of 0.2 g; a catalyst loading of 20% and a glycerol-water molar ratio of approximately 12; where the H2 yield was predicted to be 57.6% and the conversion of glycerol was predicted to be 75%. To validate the proposed models; statistical analysis using a two-sample t-test was performed; and the results showed that the models could predict the responses satisfactorily within the limits of the variables that were studied.

http://www.mdpi.com/1996-1944/7/3/2257 2014/03/22 - 18:26

Principal Component Analysis (PCA) is one of the main methods used for electronic nose pattern recognition. However, poor classification performance is common in classification and recognition when using regular PCA. This paper aims to improve the classification performance of regular PCA based on the existing Wilks ?-statistic (i.e., combined PCA with the Wilks distribution). The improved algorithms, which combine regular PCA with the Wilks ?-statistic, were developed after analysing the functionality and defects of PCA. Verification tests were conducted using a PEN3 electronic nose. The collected samples consisted of the volatiles of six varieties of rough rice (Zhongxiang1, Xiangwan13, Yaopingxiang, WufengyouT025, Pin 36, and Youyou122), grown in same area and season. The first two principal components used as analysis vectors cannot perform the rough rice varieties classification task based on a regular PCA. Using the improved algorithms, which combine the regular PCA with the Wilks ?-statistic, many different principal components were selected as analysis vectors. The set of data points of the Mahalanobis distance between each of the varieties of rough rice was selected to estimate the performance of the classification. The result illustrates that the rough rice varieties classification task is achieved well using the improved algorithm. A Probabilistic Neural Networks (PNN) was also established to test the effectiveness of the improved algorithms. The first two principal components (namely PC1 and PC2) and the first and fifth principal component (namely PC1 and PC5) were selected as the inputs of PNN for the classification of the six rough rice varieties. The results indicate that the classification accuracy based on the improved algorithm was improved by 6.67% compared to the results of the regular method. These results prove the effectiveness of using the Wilks ?-statistic to improve the classification accuracy of the regular PCA approach. The results also indicate that the electronic nose provides a non-destructive and rapid classification method for rough rice.

http://www.mdpi.com/1424-8220/14/3/5486 2014/03/22 - 18:26

Principal Component Analysis (PCA) is one of the main methods used for electronic nose pattern recognition. However, poor classification performance is common in classification and recognition when using regular PCA. This paper aims to improve the classification performance of regular PCA based on the existing Wilks ?-statistic (i.e., combined PCA with the Wilks distribution). The improved algorithms, which combine regular PCA with the Wilks ?-statistic, were developed after analysing the functionality and defects of PCA. Verification tests were conducted using a PEN3 electronic nose. The collected samples consisted of the volatiles of six varieties of rough rice (Zhongxiang1, Xiangwan13, Yaopingxiang, WufengyouT025, Pin 36, and Youyou122), grown in same area and season. The first two principal components used as analysis vectors cannot perform the rough rice varieties classification task based on a regular PCA. Using the improved algorithms, which combine the regular PCA with the Wilks ?-statistic, many different principal components were selected as analysis vectors. The set of data points of the Mahalanobis distance between each of the varieties of rough rice was selected to estimate the performance of the classification. The result illustrates that the rough rice varieties classification task is achieved well using the improved algorithm. A Probabilistic Neural Networks (PNN) was also established to test the effectiveness of the improved algorithms. The first two principal components (namely PC1 and PC2) and the first and fifth principal component (namely PC1 and PC5) were selected as the inputs of PNN for the classification of the six rough rice varieties. The results indicate that the classification accuracy based on the improved algorithm was improved by 6.67% compared to the results of the regular method. These results prove the effectiveness of using the Wilks ?-statistic to improve the classification accuracy of the regular PCA approach. The results also indicate that the electronic nose provides a non-destructive and rapid classification method for rough rice.

http://www.mdpi.com/1424-8220/14/3/5486 2014/03/22 - 18:26

Gyroscopes have been proposed as sensors for ambulatory gait analysis and functional electrical stimulation systems. These applications often require detection of the initial contact (IC) of the foot with the floor and/or final contact or foot off (FO) from the floor during outdoor walking. Previous investigations have reported the use of a single gyroscope placed on the shank for detection of IC and FO on level ground and incline walking. This paper describes the evaluation of a gyroscope placed on the shank for determination of IC and FO in subjects ascending and descending a set of stairs. Performance was compared with a reference pressure measurement system. The absolute mean difference between the gyroscope and the reference was less than 45 ms for IC and better than 135 ms for FO for both activities. Detection success was over 93%. These results provide preliminary evidence supporting the use of a gyroscope for gait event detection when walking up and down stairs.

http://www.mdpi.com/1424-8220/14/3/5470 2014/03/22 - 18:26

We outline the development and the application in a field test of the Autonomous Fibre-Optic Rotational Seismograph (AFORS), which utilizes the Sagnac effect for a direct measurement of the seismic-origin rotations of the ground. The main advantage of AFORS is its complete insensitivity to linear motions, as well as a direct measurement of rotational components emitted during seismic events. The presented system contains a special autonomous signal processing unit which optimizes its operation for the measurement of rotation motions, whereas the applied telemetric system based on the Internet allows for an AFORS remote control. The laboratory investigation of such two devices indicated that they keep an accuracy of no less than 5.1 × 10−9 to 5.5 × 10−8 rad/s in the detection frequency band from 0.83~106.15 Hz and protect linear changes of sensitivity in the above bandpass. Some experimental results of an AFORS-1 application for a continuous monitoring of the rotational events in the Książ (Poland) seismological observatory are also presented.

http://www.mdpi.com/1424-8220/14/3/5459 2014/03/22 - 18:26

Multivariate quadratic (MQ) cryptography requires the use of long public and private keys to ensure a sufficient security level, but this is not favorable to embedded systems, which have limited system resources. Recently, various approaches to MQ cryptography using reduced public keys have been studied. As a result of this, at CHES2011 (Cryptographic Hardware and Embedded Systems, 2011), a small public key MQ scheme, was proposed, and its feasible implementation on an embedded microprocessor was reported at CHES2012. However, the implementation of a small private key MQ scheme was not reported. For efficient implementation, random number generators can contribute to reduce the key size, but the cost of using a random number generator is much more complex than computing MQ on modern microprocessors. Therefore, no feasible results have been reported on embedded microprocessors. In this paper, we propose a feasible implementation on embedded microprocessors for a small private key MQ scheme using a pseudo-random number generator and hash function based on a block-cipher exploiting a hardware Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) accelerator. To speed up the performance, we apply various implementation methods, including parallel computation, on-the-fly computation, optimized logarithm representation, vinegar monomials and assembly programming. The proposed method reduces the private key size by about 99.9% and boosts signature generation and verification by 5.78% and 12.19% than previous results in CHES2012.

http://www.mdpi.com/1424-8220/14/3/5441 2014/03/22 - 18:26

The assumption that the economic growth seen in recent decades will continue has dominated the discussion of future greenhouse gas emissions and the mitigation of and adaptation to climate change. Given that long-term economic growth is uncertain, the impacts of a wide range of growth trajectories should be considered. In particular, slower economic growth would imply that future generations will be relatively less able to invest in emissions controls or adapt to the detrimental impacts of climate change. Taking into consideration the possibility of economic slowdown therefore heightens the urgency of reducing greenhouse gas emissions now by moving to renewable energy sources, even if this incurs short-term economic cost. I quantify this counterintuitive impact of economic growth assumptions on present-day policy decisions in a simple global economy-climate model (Dynamic Integrated model of Climate and the Economy (DICE)). In DICE, slow future growth increases the economically optimal present-day carbon tax rate and the utility of taxing carbon emissions, although the magnitude of the increase is sensitive to model parameters, including the rate of social time preference and the elasticity of the marginal utility of consumption. Future scenario development should specifically include low-growth scenarios, and the possibility of low-growth economic trajectories should be taken into account in climate policy analyses.

http://www.mdpi.com/2071-1050/6/3/1448 2014/03/22 - 18:26

Field assessment plays a key role in the evaluation of the energy access modalities and of the socio-economic features that may influence the beneficiaries’ choices and preferences in the adoption and use of an energy technology. This work presents the findings of a survey conducted during the implementation of a cooperation project in the Logone Valley (Chad/Cameroon). After an initial period of promotion of an improved cookstove (ICS), a survey was conducted that was aimed at identifying different beneficiary groups, matching their preferences and cooking habits to the technology proposed, in order to best tailor the scaling-up strategy. In-depth analysis of the data gathered identified two household-user behaviors and the relative influencing features: in the urban area, the increased adoption rates confirmed the appropriateness of the technology proposed and its sustainability, whereas in the rural area, ICS use was not perceived by the final users as advantageous and lower adoption rates were observed. Thus, due to the outcome of the survey, the project action was re-oriented in order to achieve a higher impact on the territory and on the population.

http://www.mdpi.com/2071-1050/6/3/1427 2014/03/22 - 18:26

Improving energy efficiency has been widely regarded as one of the most cost-effective ways to improve sustainability and mitigate climate change. This paper presents a sequential slack-based efficiency measure (SSBM) application to model total-factor energy efficiency with undesirable outputs. This approach simultaneously takes into account the sequential environmental technology, total input slacks, and undesirable outputs for energy efficiency analysis. We conduct an empirical analysis of energy efficiency incorporating greenhouse gas emissions of Korean power companies during 2007–2011. The results indicate that most of the power companies are not performing at high energy efficiency. Sequential technology has a significant effect on the energy efficiency measurements. Some policy suggestions based on the empirical results are also presented.

http://www.mdpi.com/2071-1050/6/3/1414 2014/03/22 - 18:26

Life cycle approaches are critical for identifying and reducing environmental burdens of products. While these methods can indicate potential environmental impacts of a product, current Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) methods fail to integrate the multiple impacts of a system into unified measures of social, economic or environmental performance related to sustainability. Integrated metrics that combine multiple aspects of system performance based on a common scientific or economic principle have proven to be valuable for sustainability evaluation. In this work, we propose methods of adapting four integrated metrics for use with LCAs of product systems: ecological footprint, emergy, green net value added, and Fisher information. These metrics provide information on the full product system in land, energy, monetary equivalents, and as a unitless information index; each bundled with one or more indicators for reporting. When used together and for relative comparison, integrated metrics provide a broader coverage of sustainability aspects from multiple theoretical perspectives that is more likely to illuminate potential issues than individual impact indicators. These integrated metrics are recommended for use in combination with traditional indicators used in LCA. Future work will test and demonstrate the value of using these integrated metrics and combinations to assess product system sustainability.

http://www.mdpi.com/2071-1050/6/3/1386 2014/03/22 - 18:26