Latest Articles

Open AccessArticle
Venom Profiling of a Population of the Theraphosid Spider Phlogius crassipes Reveals Continuous Ontogenetic Changes from Juveniles through Adulthood
Toxins 2017, 9(4), 116; doi:10.3390/toxins9040116 (registering DOI) -
Abstract
Theraphosid spiders (tarantulas) are venomous arthropods found in most tropical and subtropical regions of the world. Tarantula venoms are a complex cocktail of toxins with potential use as pharmacological tools, drugs and bioinsecticides. Although numerous toxins have been isolated from tarantula venoms, little
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Theraphosid spiders (tarantulas) are venomous arthropods found in most tropical and subtropical regions of the world. Tarantula venoms are a complex cocktail of toxins with potential use as pharmacological tools, drugs and bioinsecticides. Although numerous toxins have been isolated from tarantula venoms, little research has been carried out on the venom of Australian tarantulas. We therefore investigated the venom profile of the Australian theraphosid spider Phlogius crassipes and examined whether there are ontogenetic changes in venom composition. Spiders were divided into four ontogenic groups according to cephalothorax length, then the venom composition of each group was examined using gel electrophoresis and mass spectrometry. We found that the venom of P. crassipes changes continuously during development and throughout adulthood. Our data highlight the need to investigate the venom of organisms over the course of their lives to uncover and understand the changing functions of venom and the full range of toxins expressed. This in turn should lead to a deeper understanding of the organism’s ecology and enhance the potential for biodiscovery. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
A High-Efficiency Isolated-Type Three-Port Bidirectional DC/DC Converter for Photovoltaic Systems
Energies 2017, 10(4), 434; doi:10.3390/en10040434 (registering DOI) -
Abstract
This paper proposes a novel high-efficiency isolated three-port bidirectional DC/DC device for photovoltaic (PV) systems. The device contains a high step-up converter for PV modules to supply power to the DC bus, and a bidirectional charge/discharge control circuit for the battery with an
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This paper proposes a novel high-efficiency isolated three-port bidirectional DC/DC device for photovoltaic (PV) systems. The device contains a high step-up converter for PV modules to supply power to the DC bus, and a bidirectional charge/discharge control circuit for the battery with an improved boost-flyback converter. When the PV modules supply sufficient energy, their output can be stepped up and energy supply to the DC bus and charging of the battery can be achieved simultaneously. However, when the energy supplied is insufficient, the battery provides energy to the DC bus. When the proposed converter is operated in the step-down mode, the DC-blocking capacitor on the high-voltage side is used to reduce the voltage on the transformer and achieve high step-down performance. Moreover, to improve the overall efficiency of the system, the energy stored in the leakage inductance is recycled and supplied to the DC-blocking capacitor during operation in the step-up mode. Finally, to verify the feasibility and practicability of the proposed devices, a 500 W three-port bidirectional DC/DC devices was implemented. The highest efficiencies achieved for operation in different modes were as follows: high step-up mode for the PV modules, 95.2%; battery step-up mode, 94.2%; and step-down mode, 97.6%. Full article
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Open AccessReview
Ecopreneurship and Ecopreneurs: Limits, Trends and Characteristics
Sustainability 2017, 9(4), 492; doi:10.3390/su9040492 (registering DOI) -
Abstract
The research topic of Ecopreneurship is growing and new questions emerge, whilst others remain unanswered. This paper provides an extensive literature review and aims to highlight research outputs and trends in ecopreneurship. Besides a reflection on the main features, motivations and typologies of
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The research topic of Ecopreneurship is growing and new questions emerge, whilst others remain unanswered. This paper provides an extensive literature review and aims to highlight research outputs and trends in ecopreneurship. Besides a reflection on the main features, motivations and typologies of ecopreneurs, the paper provides a focus on the relationship between agribusiness and ecopreneurship in order to outline issues that hopefully will be further investigated and extended to other businesses. By following the main trends within the academic debate, the paper provides insights into the defining the distinguishing traits of ecopreneurship when compared to traditional entrepreneurship. The author provides an overview of research issues that could be explored in the future. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Corrosion Behavior of API X100 Steel Material in a Hydrogen Sulfide Environment
Metals 2017, 7(4), 109; doi:10.3390/met7040109 (registering DOI) -
Abstract
Recently, the API X100 steel has emerged as an important pipeline material for transportation of crude oil and natural gas. At the same time, the presence of significant amounts of hydrogen sulfide (H2S) in natural gas and crude oil cause pipeline
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Recently, the API X100 steel has emerged as an important pipeline material for transportation of crude oil and natural gas. At the same time, the presence of significant amounts of hydrogen sulfide (H2S) in natural gas and crude oil cause pipeline materials to corrode, which affects their integrity. In this study, the effect of H2S concentration on the corrosion behavior of API X100 in 3.5% NaCl solution is presented. The H2S gas was bubbled into saline solutions for different durations, and the corrosion tests were then performed using potentiodynamic polarization and electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS). X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), X-ray diffraction (XRD), atomic force microscopy (AFM), and scanning electron microscopy (SEM) techniques were used to characterize the corroded surface. The results indicate that the corrosion rate of API X100 steel decreases with increasing H2S bubbling time due to the increase in H2S concentration in 3.5% NaCl solutions. It is noticed that an accumulation of a critical amount of hydrogen in the metal can result in hydrogen-induced crack initiation and propagation. It was further observed that, when the stress limit of a crystalline layer is exceeded, micro-cracking of the formed protective sulfide layer (mackinawite) occurs on the API X100 steel surface, which may affect the reliability of the pipeline system. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Permutation Entropy for the Characterisation of Brain Activity Recorded with Magnetoencephalograms in Healthy Ageing
Entropy 2017, 19(4), 141; doi:10.3390/e19040141 (registering DOI) -
Abstract
The characterisation of healthy ageing of the brain could help create a fingerprint of normal ageing that might assist in the early diagnosis of neurodegenerative conditions. This study examined changes in resting state magnetoencephalogram (MEG) permutation entropy due to age and gender in
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The characterisation of healthy ageing of the brain could help create a fingerprint of normal ageing that might assist in the early diagnosis of neurodegenerative conditions. This study examined changes in resting state magnetoencephalogram (MEG) permutation entropy due to age and gender in a sample of 220 healthy participants (98 males and 122 females, ages ranging between 7 and 84). Entropy was quantified using normalised permutation entropy and modified permutation entropy, with an embedding dimension of 5 and a lag of 1 as the input parameters for both algorithms. Effects of age were observed over the five regions of the brain, i.e., anterior, central, posterior, and left and right lateral, with the anterior and central regions containing the highest permutation entropy. Statistically significant differences due to age were observed in the different brain regions for both genders, with the evolutions described using the fitting of polynomial regressions. Nevertheless, no significant differences between the genders were observed across all ages. These results suggest that the evolution of entropy in the background brain activity, quantified with permutation entropy algorithms, might be considered an alternative illustration of a ‘nominal’ physiological rhythm. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Experimental Analysis of Fabrication Parameters in the Development of Microfluidic Paper-Based Analytical Devices (µPADs)
Micromachines 2017, 8(4), 99; doi:10.3390/mi8040099 (registering DOI) -
Abstract
Microfluidic paper-based analytical devices (µPADs) have emerged as viable multiplexable platforms with the potential to transcend existing analytical techniques in resource-limited settings. µPADs are fabricated by patterning hydrophobic materials on hydrophilic paper. Reproducibility in fabrication is essential in a myriad of applications and
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Microfluidic paper-based analytical devices (µPADs) have emerged as viable multiplexable platforms with the potential to transcend existing analytical techniques in resource-limited settings. µPADs are fabricated by patterning hydrophobic materials on hydrophilic paper. Reproducibility in fabrication is essential in a myriad of applications and particularly, in the development of point-of-care (POC) diagnostic devices that utilize paper-based platforms. A critical step in fabrication involves the wax heating process that determines the channel dimensions and the depth at which hydrophobic wax material permeates paper to create barriers. In this paper, we assess µPAD viability by examining two fabrication parameters that affect wax ink spreading and permeation using a commercial heat press: temperature and time of heating. Analysis of the µPADs revealed that functional chips could be fabricated at temperatures between 143 and 215 °C and time of heating between 50 and 135 s, while non-functioning chips were obtained at temperatures between 76 and 140 °C and time of heating between 5 and 45 s. Wax ink spread and permeated paper consistently between 143 and 215 °C. Also shown is a simple three dimensional (3D) microfluidic channel fabricated in a single sheet of cellulose paper utilizing the fabrication conditions described herein. This work demonstrates that controlling the extent of wax printing in the fabrication process of a µPAD can yield versatile and interesting devices for use in both resource-rich and -limited settings. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Immobilization of Titanium(IV) Oxide onto 3D Spongin Scaffolds of Marine Sponge Origin According to Extreme Biomimetics Principles for Removal of C.I. Basic Blue 9
Biomimetics 2017, 2(2), 4; doi:10.3390/biomimetics2020004 (registering DOI) -
Abstract
The aim of extreme biomimetics is to design a bridge between extreme biomineralization and bioinspired materials chemistry, where the basic principle is to exploit chemically and thermally stable, renewable biopolymers for the development of the next generation of biologically inspired advanced and functional
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The aim of extreme biomimetics is to design a bridge between extreme biomineralization and bioinspired materials chemistry, where the basic principle is to exploit chemically and thermally stable, renewable biopolymers for the development of the next generation of biologically inspired advanced and functional composite materials. This study reports for the first time the use of proteinaceous spongin-based scaffolds isolated from marine demosponge Hippospongia communis as a three-dimensional (3D) template for the hydrothermal deposition of crystalline titanium dioxide. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) assisted with energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDS) mapping, low temperature nitrogen sorption, thermogravimetric (TG) analysis, X-ray diffraction spectroscopy (XRD), and attenuated total reflectance–Fourier transform infrared (ATR–FTIR) spectroscopy are used as characterization techniques. It was found that, after hydrothermal treatment crystalline titania in anatase form is obtained, which forms a coating around spongin microfibers through interaction with negatively charged functional groups of the structural protein as well as via hydrogen bonding. The material was tested as a potential heterogeneous photocatalyst for removal of C.I. Basic Blue 9 dye under UV irradiation. The obtained 3D composite material shows a high efficiency of dye removal through both adsorption and photocatalysis. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Impact Location and Quantification on an Aluminum Sandwich Panel Using Principal Component Analysis and Linear Approximation with Maximum Entropy
Entropy 2017, 19(4), 137; doi:10.3390/e19040137 (registering DOI) -
Abstract
To avoid structural failures it is of critical importance to detect, locate and quantify impact damage as soon as it occurs. This can be achieved by impact identification methodologies, which continuously monitor the structure, detecting, locating, and quantifying impacts as they occur. This
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To avoid structural failures it is of critical importance to detect, locate and quantify impact damage as soon as it occurs. This can be achieved by impact identification methodologies, which continuously monitor the structure, detecting, locating, and quantifying impacts as they occur. This article presents an improved impact identification algorithm that uses principal component analysis (PCA) to extract features from the monitored signals and an algorithm based on linear approximation with maximum entropy to estimate the impacts. The proposed methodology is validated with two experimental applications, which include an aluminum plate and an aluminum sandwich panel. The results are compared with those of other impact identification algorithms available in literature, demonstrating that the proposed method outperforms these algorithms. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Antioxidant Properties of Selenophene, Thiophene and Their Aminocarbonitrile Derivatives
Antioxidants 2017, 6(2), 22; doi:10.3390/antiox6020022 -
Abstract
The oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) method was used to detect the antiperoxyradical ability of organoselenium compounds: selenophene and its derivative, 2-amino-4,5,6,7-tetrahydro-1-selenophene-3-carbonitrile (ATSe); while as a comparison, the sulfur-containing analogue of selenophene—thiophene and its derivative—2-amino-4,5,6,7-tetrahydro-1-thiophene-3-carbonitrile (ATS)—was selected. Cyclic voltammetry (CV), differential pulse voltammetry
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The oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) method was used to detect the antiperoxyradical ability of organoselenium compounds: selenophene and its derivative, 2-amino-4,5,6,7-tetrahydro-1-selenophene-3-carbonitrile (ATSe); while as a comparison, the sulfur-containing analogue of selenophene—thiophene and its derivative—2-amino-4,5,6,7-tetrahydro-1-thiophene-3-carbonitrile (ATS)—was selected. Cyclic voltammetry (CV), differential pulse voltammetry (DPV) and squarewave voltammetry (SWV) methods were used to determine the redox characteristics of organoselenium and organosulfur compounds. The antiradical activity and capacity of the studied compounds were also measured by using stable radical 2,2ʹ-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH). Detected anodic peaks of the oxidation of selenophene, thiophene and their derivatives in CV, DPV and SWV in the interval of −1200 ÷ (+1600) mV potentials in regard to the Ag/Ag+ medium of acetonitrile prove the presence of antiperoxyradical activity in regard to oxidizers, i.e., peroxyradicals. The chemical mechanism of the antiperoxyradical ability of selenophene, thiophene and their organic derivatives is proposed. Full article
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