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14 pages, 3327 KiB  
Article
Cobalt Nanoparticles Supported on TiO2 for Highly Selective Formation of N-Benzylideneanilines from Nitroarenes and Benzaldehyde via Reductive Imination Reaction
by Daniela González-Vera, Tatiana M. Bustamante, J. Noé Díaz de León, Cecilia C. Torres and Cristian H. Campos
Catalysts 2024, 14(4), 272; https://doi.org/10.3390/catal14040272 (registering DOI) - 17 Apr 2024
Abstract
The search for active, inexpensive, and stable heterogeneous catalysts to produce desired imines in fine chemistry presents an ongoing challenge for both academia and industry. This work reports the utilization of Co nanoparticles supported on TiO2 derived from the H2-assisted [...] Read more.
The search for active, inexpensive, and stable heterogeneous catalysts to produce desired imines in fine chemistry presents an ongoing challenge for both academia and industry. This work reports the utilization of Co nanoparticles supported on TiO2 derived from the H2-assisted reduction of the perovskite-type mixed oxide CoTiO3. The entire preparation process is operationally simple and straightforward, enabling scalability for practical applications. The resulting catalyst comprises metallic cobalt nanoparticles responsible for the hydrogenation process, whereas the TiOx thin layer surrounding the cobalt promotes the adsorption of C=O, thereby enhancing the formation of desired products. Notably, at lower temperatures, the reaction yields the target imine product. Our study demonstrates a synergistic effect between nitrobenzene and benzaldehyde in the presence of a Co-TiOx interface, which reduces the apparent activation energy for the hydrogenation of the-NO2 group. Furthermore, under moderate reaction conditions, the catalytic system offers applicability to various nitrobenzene compounds substituted at the 4-position and benzaldehyde, resulting in high yields of the corresponding imines with electron-density-donating substituent groups. Finally, the catalyst exhibits facile separation for subsequent reuse, displaying moderate stability with minimal selectivity for the desired product. Full article
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16 pages, 2033 KiB  
Article
Microstructure Evolution and Strengthening Mechanisms of Mg–Steel Welds Subjected to Multiple Microshot Peening Treatment
by Jianghui Wang and Chuan Xu
Metals 2024, 14(4), 470; https://doi.org/10.3390/met14040470 (registering DOI) - 17 Apr 2024
Abstract
A surface modification through multiple microshot peening (MSP) was performed on Mg–steel weldment. Application of MSP was found beneficial to the elimination of surface microdefects owing to severe plastic deformation induced by MSP. Moreover, MSP treatment transformed the residual tensile stress of the [...] Read more.
A surface modification through multiple microshot peening (MSP) was performed on Mg–steel weldment. Application of MSP was found beneficial to the elimination of surface microdefects owing to severe plastic deformation induced by MSP. Moreover, MSP treatment transformed the residual tensile stress of the weld surface into residual compressive stress, which was beneficial to inhibit the initiation and propagation of surface microdefects. Strain strengthening and grain refining were introduced into the shot peened joint, resulting in the notable increase in surface hardness and tensile strength. Compared with an untreated joint, the tensile strength of optimized Mg/steel weldment was markedly enhanced and raised 28% to 244 MPa, and fracture ultimately occurred in the Mg alloy base material. Moreover, the refinement of weld grain induced by MSP treatment was beneficial to strengthen the stress corrosion sensitivity of Mg/steel joints, while also promoting the formation of a denser Mg(OH)2 passivation film on the weld surface and enhancing the corrosion resistance of the joints. Full article
13 pages, 1255 KiB  
Article
Phylodynamic and Evolution of the Hemagglutinin (HA) and Neuraminidase (NA) Genes of Influenza A(H1N1) pdm09 Viruses Circulating in the 2009 and 2023 Seasons in Italy
by Fabio Scarpa, Leonardo Sernicola, Stefania Farcomeni, Alessandra Ciccozzi, Daria Sanna, Marco Casu, Marco Vitale, Alessia Cicenia, Marta Giovanetti, Chiara Romano, Francesco Branda, Massimo Ciccozzi and Alessandra Borsetti
Pathogens 2024, 13(4), 334; https://doi.org/10.3390/pathogens13040334 (registering DOI) - 17 Apr 2024
Abstract
The influenza A(H1N1) pdm09 virus, which emerged in 2009, has been circulating seasonally since then. In this study, we conducted a comprehensive genome-based investigation to gain a detailed understanding of the genetic and evolutionary characteristics of the hemagglutinin (HA) and neuraminidase (NA) surface [...] Read more.
The influenza A(H1N1) pdm09 virus, which emerged in 2009, has been circulating seasonally since then. In this study, we conducted a comprehensive genome-based investigation to gain a detailed understanding of the genetic and evolutionary characteristics of the hemagglutinin (HA) and neuraminidase (NA) surface proteins of A/H1N1pdm09 strains circulating in Italy over a fourteen-year period from 2009 to 2023 in relation to global strains. Phylogenetic analysis revealed rapid transmission and diversification of viral variants during the early pandemic that clustered in clade 6B.1. In contrast, limited genetic diversity was observed during the 2023 season, probably due to the genetic drift, which provides the virus with a constant adaptability to the host; furthermore, all isolates were split into two main groups representing two clades, i.e., 6B.1A.5a.2a and its descendant 6B.1A.5a.2a.1. The HA gene showed a faster rate of evolution compared to the NA gene. Using FUBAR, we identified positively selected sites 41 and 177 for HA and 248, 286, and 455 for NA in 2009, as well as sites 22, 123, and 513 for HA and 339 for NA in 2023, all of which may be important sites related to the host immune response. Changes in glycosylation acquisition/loss at prominent sites, i.e., 177 in HA and 248 in NA, should be considered as a predictive tool for early warning signs of emerging pandemics, and for vaccine and drug development. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advance in Influenza A and Influenza B Viruses)
13 pages, 1830 KiB  
Article
Analysis of an Interface Crack between Piezoelectric Semiconductor Coating and Elastic Substrate Structure
by Xiangru Tian, Yali Zhang, Hailiang Ma, Xing Li and Shenghu Ding
Mathematics 2024, 12(8), 1208; https://doi.org/10.3390/math12081208 (registering DOI) - 17 Apr 2024
Abstract
Piezoelectric semiconductor materials possess a unique combination of piezoelectric and semiconductor effects, exhibiting multifaceted coupling properties such as electromechanical, acoustic, photoelectric, photovoltaic, thermal, and thermoelectric capabilities. This study delves into the anti-plane mechanical model of an interface crack between a strip of piezoelectric [...] Read more.
Piezoelectric semiconductor materials possess a unique combination of piezoelectric and semiconductor effects, exhibiting multifaceted coupling properties such as electromechanical, acoustic, photoelectric, photovoltaic, thermal, and thermoelectric capabilities. This study delves into the anti-plane mechanical model of an interface crack between a strip of piezoelectric semiconductor material and an elastic material. By introducing two boundary conditions, the mixed boundary value problem is reformulated into a set of singular integral equations with a Cauchy kernel. The details of carrier concentration, current density, and electric displacement near the crack are provided in a numerical analysis. The findings reveal that the distribution of the current density, carrier concentration, and electric displacement is intricately influenced by the doping concentration of the piezoelectric semiconductor. Moreover, the presence of mechanical and electric loads can either expedite or decelerate the growth of the crack, highlighting the pivotal role of external stimuli in influencing material behavior. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mathematical Applications in Electrical Engineering)
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21 pages, 2020 KiB  
Article
Closing Access Streets to Schools for Vehicular Traffic—Does It Affect the Air Quality?
by Artur Badyda and Mariusz Rogulski
Sustainability 2024, 16(8), 3380; https://doi.org/10.3390/su16083380 (registering DOI) - 17 Apr 2024
Abstract
This article presents the impact of vehicle traffic intensity and the closure of access roads for wheeled vehicles to selected schools in Warsaw at selected hours of the day on changes in air quality. This study focused primarily on analyses related to the [...] Read more.
This article presents the impact of vehicle traffic intensity and the closure of access roads for wheeled vehicles to selected schools in Warsaw at selected hours of the day on changes in air quality. This study focused primarily on analyses related to the pollutant typical of road traffic, i.e., nitrogen dioxide, but also took into account PM10 and PM2.5 concentrations, which are some of the key factors determining the quality of atmospheric air, the sustainability of human beings, and sustainable development. Some kinds of relationships were found between vehicle traffic intensity and air pollutant concentrations, in particular—nitrogen dioxide. Analyses of the pollutant concentrations in the periods before and after the introduction of restrictions on vehicle traffic on working days indicate that, in the case of two of the schools during the morning traffic rush hours, significantly lower NO2 concentrations were observed in the period after the introduction of road traffic restrictions, compared with the period before they were introduced. NO2 concentrations during the morning peak hours (on working days) after introducing restrictions were more than 30% lower than the concentrations recorded during the same hours in the period before introducing restrictions. Full article
13 pages, 707 KiB  
Article
Comparison of Metabolic Power and Energy Cost of Submaximal and Sprint Running Efforts Using Different Methods in Elite Youth Soccer Players: A Novel Energetic Approach
by Gabriele Grassadonia, Pedro E. Alcaraz and Tomás T. Freitas
Sensors 2024, 24(8), 2577; https://doi.org/10.3390/s24082577 (registering DOI) - 17 Apr 2024
Abstract
Sprinting is a decisive action in soccer that is considerably taxing from a neuromuscular and energetic perspective. This study compared different calculation methods for the metabolic power (MP) and energy cost (EC) of sprinting using global positioning system (GPS) metrics and electromyography (EMG), [...] Read more.
Sprinting is a decisive action in soccer that is considerably taxing from a neuromuscular and energetic perspective. This study compared different calculation methods for the metabolic power (MP) and energy cost (EC) of sprinting using global positioning system (GPS) metrics and electromyography (EMG), with the aim of identifying potential differences in performance markers. Sixteen elite U17 male soccer players (age: 16.4 ± 0.5 years; body mass: 64.6 ± 4.4 kg; and height: 177.4 ± 4.3 cm) participated in the study and completed four different submaximal constant running efforts followed by sprinting actions while using portable GPS-IMU units and surface EMG. GPS-derived MP was determined based on GPS velocity, and the EMG-MP and EC were calculated based on individual profiles plotting the MP of the GPS and all EMG signals acquired. The goodness of fit of the linear regressions was assessed by the coefficient of determination (R2), and a repeated measures ANOVA was used to detect changes. A linear trend was found in EMG activity during submaximal speed runs (R2 = 1), but when the sprint effort was considered, the trend became exponential (R2 = 0.89). The EMG/force ratio displayed two different trends: linear up to a 30 m sprint (R2 = 0.99) and polynomial up to a 50 m sprint (R2 = 0.96). Statistically significant differences between the GPS and EMG were observed for MP splits at 0–5 m, 5–10 m, 25–30 m, 30–35 m, and 35–40 m and for EC splits at 5–10 m, 25–30 m, 30–35 m, and 35–40 m (p ≤ 0.05). Therefore, the determination of the MP and EC based on GPS technology underestimated the neuromuscular and metabolic engagement during the sprinting efforts. Thus, the EMG-derived method seems to be more accurate for calculating the MP and EC in this type of action. Full article
16 pages, 613 KiB  
Communication
Lightweight Deep Neural Network with Data Redundancy Removal and Regression for DOA Estimation in Sensor Array
by Aifei Liu, Jiapeng Guo, Yauhen Arnatovich and Zhiling Liu
Remote Sens. 2024, 16(8), 1423; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs16081423 (registering DOI) - 17 Apr 2024
Abstract
In this paper, a lightweight deep neural network (DNN) for direction of arrival (DOA) estimation is proposed, of which the input vector is designed to remove data redundancy as well as remaining DOA information. By exploring the Vandermonde property of the steering vector [...] Read more.
In this paper, a lightweight deep neural network (DNN) for direction of arrival (DOA) estimation is proposed, of which the input vector is designed to remove data redundancy as well as remaining DOA information. By exploring the Vandermonde property of the steering vector of a uniform linear array (ULA), the size of the newly designed input vector is greatly reduced. Furthermore, the DOA estimation is designed as a regression problem instead of a classification problem; that is, the lightweight DNN designs the output vector as the estimated DOAs of sources, of which the size is much shorter than that of the spatial spectrum used as the output vector in the conventional DNN. The reductions in the sizes of input and output vectors lead to a reduction in the sizes of hidden layers, achieving lightweightness of the neural network. The analysis illustrates that when the number of sensors is 22, the number of parameters in the lightweight DNN is three orders of magnitude less than that in the conventional DNN. The simulation results demonstrate the lightweight DNN can provide high DOA estimation accuracy with the shortest testing time. It performs better than the conventional DNN. Furthermore, it is superior to traditional solutions such as the multiple signal classification (MUSIC) method and conventional beamforming (CBF) method in harsh conditions like low signal-to-noise ratios (SNRs), closely spaced sources, and few snapshots. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advanced Array Signal Processing for Target Imaging and Detection)
16 pages, 944 KiB  
Article
Permeable Properties of Hygienic Nonwovens Bonded Using Mechanical, Chemical, and Thermal Techniques
by Dunja Šajn Gorjanc and Klara Kostajnšek
Polymers 2024, 16(8), 1132; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym16081132 (registering DOI) - 17 Apr 2024
Abstract
The demand for hygienic nonwovens has increased, especially since 2020. As expected, the market for nonwovens showed an increase during the COVID-19 outbreak, especially in the medical and hygienic nonwovens sector. The aim of this study is to analyse the influence of the [...] Read more.
The demand for hygienic nonwovens has increased, especially since 2020. As expected, the market for nonwovens showed an increase during the COVID-19 outbreak, especially in the medical and hygienic nonwovens sector. The aim of this study is to analyse the influence of the permeability properties of hygienic nonwovens that have been mechanically, chemically, and thermally bonded. Hygienic nonwovens are lightweight (from 20 to 120 g/m2), produced by carding (roller carding), and are bonded using three different bonding processes (mechanical, thermal, and chemical). Hygienic nonwovens are intended for protective clothing in hospitals. For the experimental part, the seven different nonwovens used for hygienic purposes were produced using the dry laying process. The samples were produced in Tosama, a factory for sanitary supplies. The research results show that the nonwoven bonding processes have a significant influence on the structural, mechanical, and permeability properties. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Polymer Applications)
15 pages, 2256 KiB  
Article
Molecular and Serological Detection of Vector-Borne Pathogens Responsible for Equine Piroplasmosis in Europe between 2008 and 2021
by Carla Wiebke Axt, Andrea Springer, Christina Strube, Clarissa Jung, Torsten J. Naucke, Elisabeth Müller and Ingo Schäfer
Microorganisms 2024, 12(4), 816; https://doi.org/10.3390/microorganisms12040816 (registering DOI) - 17 Apr 2024
Abstract
Equine piroplasmosis (EP) is caused by Theileria (T.) equi and/or Babesia (B.) caballi. The aim was to assess the percentage of positive test results for EP in horses in Europe and to identify risk factors for pathogen contact/infection. [...] Read more.
Equine piroplasmosis (EP) is caused by Theileria (T.) equi and/or Babesia (B.) caballi. The aim was to assess the percentage of positive test results for EP in horses in Europe and to identify risk factors for pathogen contact/infection. This study included results from PCR and competitive enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay testing requested by European veterinarians between 2008 and 2021. Binary bivariate logistic regression was used to analyze risk factors. A total of 4060 horses were included. PCR testing was positive in 9.7% (154/1589), serology for T. equi in 15.2% (393/2591) and for B. caballi in 6.8% (175/2578). The odds of positive serology increased by 6.8% (B. caballi, p = 0.008) and 9.5% (T. equi, p < 0.001) each year. Regionality had a statistically significant impact on PCR (Eastern p = 0.047/OR = 1.605; Southern p = 0.029/OR = 1.451; Central p = 0.007/OR = 0.617) and serological testing for T. equi (Southern p < 0.001/OR = 2.521; Central p < 0.001/OR = 0.537; Northern p = 0.003/OR = 0.462), as well as breeds on seroprevalence of B. caballi (heavy horses: p = 0.016/OR = 2.239) and T. equi (ponies: p = 0.007/OR = 0.340; warmbloods: p = 0.025/OR = 1.602). In conclusion, there was a significant geographical impact on the results of PCR and serology, consistent with known vector habitats. The rising numbers of horses tested serologically positive highlights the importance of surveillance. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Global Burden of Parasitic Diseases: Prevalence and Epidemiology)
12 pages, 3035 KiB  
Article
Weak Value Amplification-Based Biochip for Highly Sensitive Detection and Identification of Breast Cancer Exosomes
by Jingru Zhao, Xiaotian Guan, Sihao Zhang, Zhou Sha and Shuqing Sun
Biosensors 2024, 14(4), 198; https://doi.org/10.3390/bios14040198 (registering DOI) - 17 Apr 2024
Abstract
Exosomes constitute an emerging biomarker for cancer diagnosis because they carry multiple proteins that reflect the origins of the parent cell. The highly sensitive detection of exosomes is a crucial prerequisite for the diagnosis of cancer. In this study, we report an exosome [...] Read more.
Exosomes constitute an emerging biomarker for cancer diagnosis because they carry multiple proteins that reflect the origins of the parent cell. The highly sensitive detection of exosomes is a crucial prerequisite for the diagnosis of cancer. In this study, we report an exosome detection system based on quantum weak value amplification (WVA). The WVA detection system consists of a reflection detection light path and a Zr-ionized biochip. Zr-ionized biochips effectively capture exosomes through the specific interaction between zirconium dioxide and the phosphate groups on the lipid bilayer of exosomes. Aptamer-modified gold nanoparticles (Au NPs) are then used to specifically recognize proteins on exosomes to enhance the detection signal. The sensitivity and resolution of the detection system are 2944.07 nm/RIU and 1.22 × 10−5 RIU, respectively. The concentration of exosomes can be directly quantified by the WVA system, ranging from 105–107 particles/mL with the detection limit of 3 × 104 particles/mL. The use of Au NPs-EpCAM for the specific enhancement of breast cancer MDA-MB-231 exosomes is demonstrated. The results indicate that the WVA detection system can be a promising candidate for the detection of exosomes as tumor markers. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Noble Metal Nanoparticle-Based Nanoplatforms for Biosensors)
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16 pages, 1806 KiB  
Article
Novel Structure of Shield Ring to Reduce Shaft Voltage and Improve Cooling Performance of Interior Permanent Magnet Synchronous Motor
by Jun-Kyu Kang, Jun-Hyeok Heo, Su-Hwan Kim and Jin Hur
Electronics 2024, 13(8), 1535; https://doi.org/10.3390/electronics13081535 (registering DOI) - 17 Apr 2024
Abstract
The voltage of the battery system is increased to increase the efficiency of the electric motor drive system. Additionally, the space vector pulse width modulation (SVPWM) technique is used to ensure high controllability. However, high-voltage and high-speed PWM switching controls for system efficiency [...] Read more.
The voltage of the battery system is increased to increase the efficiency of the electric motor drive system. Additionally, the space vector pulse width modulation (SVPWM) technique is used to ensure high controllability. However, high-voltage and high-speed PWM switching controls for system efficiency generate high common mode voltage (CMV), and shaft voltage is induced in the bearing. This results in a shortened bearing life and potential damage. Therefore, this paper proposes a method to reduce the shaft voltage of the motor through a novel hybrid shield ring structure. It also analyzes how to improve the cooling performance of the motor using a shield ring. First, the parasitic capacitance inside the motor is analyzed. Then, the shaft voltage reduction technology is analyzed according to the material of the shield ring. Finally, experiments validate the proposed method. Additionally, the temperature characteristics of the main part of the motor are analyzed through an experiment in consideration of the shield ring. Full article
32 pages, 1053 KiB  
Review
Recent Advances in Pathology of Intrahepatic Cholangiocarcinoma
by Joon Hyuk Choi and Swan N. Thung
Cancers 2024, 16(8), 1537; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers16081537 (registering DOI) - 17 Apr 2024
Abstract
Intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma (ICCA) is a malignant epithelial neoplasm characterized by biliary differentiation within the liver. ICCA is molecularly heterogeneous and exhibits a broad spectrum of histopathological features. It is a highly aggressive carcinoma with high mortality and poor survival rates. ICCAs are classified [...] Read more.
Intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma (ICCA) is a malignant epithelial neoplasm characterized by biliary differentiation within the liver. ICCA is molecularly heterogeneous and exhibits a broad spectrum of histopathological features. It is a highly aggressive carcinoma with high mortality and poor survival rates. ICCAs are classified into two main subtypes: the small-duct type and large-duct types. These two tumor types have different cell origins and clinicopathological features. ICCAs are characterized by numerous molecular alterations, including mutations in KRAS, TP53, IDH1/2, ARID1A, BAP1, BRAF, SAMD4, and EGFR, and FGFR2 fusion. Two main molecular subtypes—inflammation and proliferation—have been proposed. Recent advances in high-throughput assays using next-generation sequencing have improved our understanding of ICCA pathogenesis and molecular genetics. The diagnosis of ICCA poses a significant challenge for pathologists because of its varied morphologies and phenotypes. Accurate diagnosis of ICCA is essential for effective patient management and prognostic determination. This article provides an updated overview of ICCA pathology, focusing particularly on molecular features, histological subtypes, and diagnostic approaches. Full article
19 pages, 859 KiB  
Article
Genetic and Hormonal Regulation of Sweet Cherry (Prunus avium L.) Maturity across Altitudinal Gradients
by Diana Nacouzi and Walid El Kayal
Horticulturae 2024, 10(4), 408; https://doi.org/10.3390/horticulturae10040408 (registering DOI) - 17 Apr 2024
Abstract
Lebanon is recognized as a major producer of sweet cherries (Prunus avium L.) within the Mediterranean region. This non-climacteric fruit is grown at various altitudes, leading to considerable variation in maturity dates among cultivated varieties and altitudes and subsequently influencing harvest timing. [...] Read more.
Lebanon is recognized as a major producer of sweet cherries (Prunus avium L.) within the Mediterranean region. This non-climacteric fruit is grown at various altitudes, leading to considerable variation in maturity dates among cultivated varieties and altitudes and subsequently influencing harvest timing. The interaction between genotype and environment significantly affects fruit maturity dates and physicochemical attributes. Fruit maturation entails the regulated activity of numerous genes. In this study, we analyzed gene expression in the berries of six sweet cherry varieties (“Skeena”, “Teliani”, “Banni”, “Feraouni”, “Mkahal”, and “Irani”) cultivated at five locations, ranging from 1130 m to 2080 m above sea level, from May to July. This research focused on the genes potentially associated with auxin response factors, Abscisic acid receptors, ethylene receptors, gibberellin, and cytokinin regulations. Additionally, hormone analysis encompassing Benzyl Adenine (BA), Zeatin, Salicylic acid (SA), Gibberellic acid (GA3), and Abscisic acid (ABA) quantification was conducted on the same samples. The results revealed significant differences in gene expression concerning harvest dates, varieties, and locations. Abscisic acid and Salicylic acid exhibited higher concentrations in the tested fruits throughout the season. Benzyl Adenine had the lowest detected content in fruits. Data also revealed dynamic changes in phytohormones, especially ABA content, among varieties. When comparing phytohormones for different harvest dates in the same location, significant differences were observed. This work contributes to a deeper understanding of the role of plant hormones and their gene expression in the maturation of non-climacteric fruits. Full article
28 pages, 870 KiB  
Article
The Effect of Culture and Social-Cognitive Characteristics on App Preference and Willingness to Use a Fitness App
by Kiemute Oyibo and Julita Vassileva
Multimodal Technol. Interact. 2024, 8(4), 33; https://doi.org/10.3390/mti8040033 - 17 Apr 2024
Abstract
Fitness apps are persuasive tools developed to motivate physical activity. Despite their popularity, there is little work on how social-cognitive characteristics such as culture, household size, physical activity level, perceived self-efficacy and social support influence users’ willingness to use them and preference (personal [...] Read more.
Fitness apps are persuasive tools developed to motivate physical activity. Despite their popularity, there is little work on how social-cognitive characteristics such as culture, household size, physical activity level, perceived self-efficacy and social support influence users’ willingness to use them and preference (personal vs. social). Knowing these relationships can help developers tailor fitness apps to different socio-cultural groups. Hence, we conducted two studies to address the research gap. In the first study (n = 194) aimed at recruiting participants for the second study, we asked participants about their app preference (personal vs. social), physical activity level and key demographic variables. In the second study (n = 49), we asked participants about their social-cognitive beliefs about exercise and their willingness to use a fitness app (presented as a screenshot). The results of the first study showed that, in the collectivist group (Nigerians), people in large households were more likely to be active and use the social version of a fitness app than those in small households. However, in the individualist group (Canadians/Americans), neither the preference for the social or personal version of a fitness app nor the physical activity level depended on the household size. Moreover, in the second study, in the individualist model, perceived self-efficacy and perceived self-regulation have a significant total effect on willingness to use a fitness app. However, in the collectivist model, perceived social support and outcome expectation have a significant total effect on the target construct. Finally, we found that females in individualist cultures had higher overall social-cognitive beliefs about exercise than males in individualist cultures and females in collectivist cultures. The implications of the findings are discussed. Full article
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15 pages, 5403 KiB  
Article
GIS-Based Model Parameter Enhancement for Urban Water Utility Networks
by Péter Orgoványi and Tamás Karches
Urban Sci. 2024, 8(2), 35; https://doi.org/10.3390/urbansci8020035 - 17 Apr 2024
Abstract
Water utilities are like arteries for the urban environment and, in order to satisfy water demand, extensive design and operation work applying modeling tools is required. An effective tool can be operated but only if the input, such as real-world consumption data, is [...] Read more.
Water utilities are like arteries for the urban environment and, in order to satisfy water demand, extensive design and operation work applying modeling tools is required. An effective tool can be operated but only if the input, such as real-world consumption data, is built into the system. This study aims to present a GIS-based technique to align the consumption data to a simplified network topology. This study investigates four distinct methods, revealing noteworthy outcomes. The geocoding of consumption locations facilitates their seamless integration with model nodes through geospatial methods. Additionally, effective water consumption allocation is achieved by delineating influence ranges around each node. When comparing the zoning based on the street approach and the arithmetic average with the benchmark manual range of influence approach, substantial errors appear of approximately 190% and 230%, respectively. Addressing the impracticality of the manual method, especially for larger networks, this study advocates for the use of Thiessen polygons to delineate influence areas. In conclusion, this study presents a holistic approach to aligning consumption data with simplified network topologies for enhanced water utility modeling. Full article
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21 pages, 24060 KiB  
Article
Assessment of the State of the Landscaping System in the City of Aktobe, the Republic of Kazakhstan, under Conditions of Man-Made Load Using Remote Sensing
by Altynbek Khamit, Nurlygul Utarbayeva, Gulnur Shumakova, Murat Makhambetov, Akzhunus Abdullina and Aigul Sergeyeva
Urban Sci. 2024, 8(2), 34; https://doi.org/10.3390/urbansci8020034 - 17 Apr 2024
Abstract
The growth of a city causes a complex of problems related to the increase in the pollution of the urban environment and the shortcomings in its improvement. The territory of the modern city is characterized by the highest man-made loads on the natural [...] Read more.
The growth of a city causes a complex of problems related to the increase in the pollution of the urban environment and the shortcomings in its improvement. The territory of the modern city is characterized by the highest man-made loads on the natural environment. The main problems are the low level of green areas, as well as the reduction in trees in many areas, which does not allow the city residents to live comfortably. Currently, Earth remote sensing methods using the vegetation index (NDVI) are one of the dominant means of assessing the condition. In this regard, the purpose of this study is to assess the ecological condition of the green zone in the city of Aktobe. To solve this problem, complex assessment was carried out, including statistical data analysis and the processing of satellite images by calculation of the NDVI for green areas and their mapping. The article analysis lies in the field of development and landscaping of the urban environment of Aktobe. A description of the current state of the system of green areas in the city was provided. On the basis of the data of remote sensing of the earth, the spatial features of the separate classes of the total phytomass of green plants within the city of Aktobe and the spatial features of the territorial zones of the city were determined during the differentiation of green plantings. A study of the dynamics of changes in the vegetation cover index (NDVI) during 2010, 2016, and 2023 allowed us to identify trends in the development of green spaces and their changes over time due to city growth and other factors. The data obtained as a result of the research can be used in the justification of urban planning decisions, landscape planning of the ecological infrastructure of the city, and optimization of landscaping systems. Full article
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14 pages, 2818 KiB  
Article
Afro-Asian Intimacies: Cross-Pollination and the Persistence of Anti-Blackness in Chinese Culture
by Crystal Kwok
Genealogy 2024, 8(2), 44; https://doi.org/10.3390/genealogy8020044 - 17 Apr 2024
Abstract
America’s racial history is largely siloed and compartmentalized, separating minority group experiences as if they were neat rows of isolated, discernable categories. Resisting binary narratives, this article reframes history by focusing on the largely unknown lives of the Chinese immigrants and African American [...] Read more.
America’s racial history is largely siloed and compartmentalized, separating minority group experiences as if they were neat rows of isolated, discernable categories. Resisting binary narratives, this article reframes history by focusing on the largely unknown lives of the Chinese immigrants and African American communities in the segregated south. An examination of the intimate histories between the two marginalized groups illuminates how structures of the central white power enforced racial projects that pit Asians and African Americans against each other, laying roots to the tensions we see continuing to play out today. Through my documentary film, Blurring the Color Line, which follows my grandmother’s family growing up in a Black neighborhood, I dive into the obscure but illuminating space of in-betweenness to disrupt hegemonic productions of knowledge and to reveal nuanced stories of how cross-pollinating communities moved amongst and against one another in order to survive and thrive. Stories of conformity and co-mingling between two disempowered communities beg us to question how the language of skin informs social placement and how silenced histories speak deeper truths about the processes and consequences of racialization. Full article
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26 pages, 1063 KiB  
Article
A Sequential Explanatory Study Examining the Buffering Effects of Human–Animal Interaction on Stress and Quality of Life among Work-from-Home Employees during the COVID-19 Pandemic in the Philippines
by Karen Anne C. Quing, Jomar Saif P. Baudin and Renato R. Maaliw III
COVID 2024, 4(4), 531-556; https://doi.org/10.3390/covid4040036 (registering DOI) - 17 Apr 2024
Abstract
The sudden lockdown and social isolation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic substantially affected the physical and psychological aspects of our lives. This study used a sequential explanatory research design to explore how human–animal interactions (HAI) can reduce stress and improve quality of life [...] Read more.
The sudden lockdown and social isolation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic substantially affected the physical and psychological aspects of our lives. This study used a sequential explanatory research design to explore how human–animal interactions (HAI) can reduce stress and improve quality of life (QOL) for employees working from home during the period. A total of 770 respondents took part in the quantitative portion of this study, comprised of 385 pet owners and 385 non-pet owners, with ten individuals randomly selected for the qualitative phase. The pet owners group was predominantly female, with 28.57% of the total sample with a mean age of 33.67 and a standard deviation (SD) of 9.46. In contrast, the majority of non-pet owners were male, making up 32.46% of the group with an average age of 29.57 and SD of 6.42. The HAI scale, work stress questionnaire, and the WHOQOL-BREF tests were utilized to evaluate the variables of this research. The results indicated significant differences in stress levels between the two independent groups. However, there were no significant differences in the overall QOL within the groups, except in the social domain. More importantly, our research showed that HAI had a buffering effect on stress and QOL among pet owners. Our research has important implications for understanding the importance of owning pets in enhancing personal welfare. These results are helpful for public health policies and endeavors to aid individuals and communities during periods of crises such as a pandemic. Full article
11 pages, 938 KiB  
Article
Rural Urban Nutrient Partnership (RUN): Life Cycle Assessment of Multi Nutrient Recovery from Kitchen Waste and Blackwater
by Heinz Stichnothe, Ben Joseph, Volker Preyl and Carsten Meyer
Recycling 2024, 9(2), 31; https://doi.org/10.3390/recycling9020031 - 17 Apr 2024
Abstract
Newly developed and innovative RUN technology aims to recover nutrients from urban wastewater (blackwater) and biowaste (kitchen waste). The development of RUN technology has been supported by the life cycle assessment (LCA) in order to identify hotspots and trade-offs. While the performance of [...] Read more.
Newly developed and innovative RUN technology aims to recover nutrients from urban wastewater (blackwater) and biowaste (kitchen waste). The development of RUN technology has been supported by the life cycle assessment (LCA) in order to identify hotspots and trade-offs. While the performance of the process at a laboratory scale did not show any environmental benefits from P recovery, the LCA results have helped to improve the environmental performance at the following scale-up step. The recovery of P on a technical scale was environmentally beneficial, especially in terms of the global warming potential (GWP). However, there were still some trade-offs, e.g., freshwater and marine eutrophication were slightly higher compared to conventional P fertilizer production. Given that P is considered a critical raw material and that climate change is probably the most pressing environmental issue, RUN technology has the potential to deliver on both domains. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Reuse of Wastewater: Recovery of Water, Nutrients, and Energy II)
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18 pages, 3877 KiB  
Article
Exploring the Model of Cefazolin Released from Jellyfish Gelatin-Based Hydrogels as Affected by Glutaraldehyde
by Wiriya Charoenchokpanich, Pratchaya Muangrod, Sittiruk Roytrakul, Vilai Rungsardthong, Benjamaporn Wonganu, Sawanya Charoenlappanit, Federico Casanova and Benjawan Thumthanaruk
Gels 2024, 10(4), 271; https://doi.org/10.3390/gels10040271 - 17 Apr 2024
Abstract
Due to its excellent biocompatibility and ease of biodegradation, jellyfish gelatin has gained attention as a hydrogel. However, hydrogel produced from jellyfish gelatin has not yet been sufficiently characterized. Therefore, this research aims to produce a jellyfish gelatin-based hydrogel. The gelatin produced from [...] Read more.
Due to its excellent biocompatibility and ease of biodegradation, jellyfish gelatin has gained attention as a hydrogel. However, hydrogel produced from jellyfish gelatin has not yet been sufficiently characterized. Therefore, this research aims to produce a jellyfish gelatin-based hydrogel. The gelatin produced from desalted jellyfish by-products varied with the part of the specimen and extraction time. Hydrogels with gelatin: glutaraldehyde ratios of 10:0.25, 10:0.50, and 10:1.00 (v/v) were characterized, and their cefazolin release ability was determined. The optimal conditions for gelatin extraction and chosen for the development of jellyfish hydrogels (JGel) included the use of the umbrella part of desalted jellyfish by-products extracted for 24 h (WU24), which yielded the highest gel strength (460.02 g), viscosity (24.45 cP), gelling temperature (12.70 °C), and melting temperature (22.48 °C). The quantities of collagen alpha−1(XXVIII) chain A, collagen alpha−1(XXI) chain, and collagen alpha−2(IX) chain in WU24 may influence its gel properties. Increasing the glutaraldehyde content in JGel increased the gel fraction by decreasing the space between the protein chains and gel swelling, as glutaraldehyde binds with lateral amino acid residues and produces a stronger network. At 8 h, more than 80% of the cefazolin in JGel (10:0.25) was released, which was higher than that released from bovine hydrogel (52.81%) and fish hydrogel (54.04%). This research is the first report focused on the production of JGel using glutaraldehyde as a cross-linking agent. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Gels in Medicine and Pharmacological Therapies (2nd Edition))
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21 pages, 5015 KiB  
Review
Shape Memory Hydrogels for Biomedical Applications
by Aleeza Farrukh and Sana Nayab
Gels 2024, 10(4), 270; https://doi.org/10.3390/gels10040270 - 17 Apr 2024
Abstract
The ability of shape memory polymers to change shape upon external stimulation makes them exceedingly useful in various areas, from biomedical engineering to soft robotics. Especially, shape memory hydrogels (SMHs) are well-suited for biomedical applications due to their inherent biocompatibility, excellent shape morphing [...] Read more.
The ability of shape memory polymers to change shape upon external stimulation makes them exceedingly useful in various areas, from biomedical engineering to soft robotics. Especially, shape memory hydrogels (SMHs) are well-suited for biomedical applications due to their inherent biocompatibility, excellent shape morphing performance, tunable physiochemical properties, and responsiveness to a wide range of stimuli (e.g., thermal, chemical, electrical, light). This review provides an overview of the unique features of smart SMHs from their fundamental working mechanisms to types of SMHs classified on the basis of applied stimuli and highlights notable clinical applications. Moreover, the potential of SMHs for surgical, biomedical, and tissue engineering applications is discussed. Finally, this review summarizes the current challenges in synthesizing and fabricating reconfigurable hydrogel-based interfaces and outlines future directions for their potential in personalized medicine and clinical applications. Full article
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11 pages, 1541 KiB  
Article
The Injection of Gels Through an Intact Annulus Maintains Biomechanical Performance without Extrusion Risk
by Hans-Joachim Wilke, Holger Fuchs, Karin Benz, Juergen Mollenhauer, Christoph Gaissmaier, Frank Heuer and Cornelia Neidlinger-Wilke
Gels 2024, 10(4), 269; https://doi.org/10.3390/gels10040269 - 17 Apr 2024
Abstract
For autologous-disc-derived chondrocyte transplantation (ADCT) a transglutaminase crosslinked gelatine gel and an albumin hyaluronic acid gel, crosslinked with bis-thio-polyethylene glycol, were injected through a syringe into a degenerated intervertebral disc, where they solidified in situ. This biomechanical in vitro study with lumbar bovine [...] Read more.
For autologous-disc-derived chondrocyte transplantation (ADCT) a transglutaminase crosslinked gelatine gel and an albumin hyaluronic acid gel, crosslinked with bis-thio-polyethylene glycol, were injected through a syringe into a degenerated intervertebral disc, where they solidified in situ. This biomechanical in vitro study with lumbar bovine motion segments evaluated disc height changes, motion characteristics in a quasi-static spine loading simulators, and the potential extrusion risk of these biomaterials in a complex dynamic multi-axial loading set-up with 100,000 loading cycles. After the injection and formation of the gel in the center of the nucleus, the disc height increase was about 0.3 mm. During cyclic testing, a gradual decrease in height could be detected due to viscoelastic effects and fluid loss. No gel extrusion could be observed for all specimens during the entire test procedure. A macroscopic inspection after dissections showed an accumulation of the solidified gel in the center of the nucleus. The results demonstrate that the injection of in situ solidifying gels through the intact annulus allows for the stable maintenance of the injected gel at the target location, with high potential for use as a suitable scaffold to anchor therapeutically applied cells for disc regeneration within the treated nucleus pulposus. Full article
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15 pages, 1195 KiB  
Article
Combination of Systemic and Lock-Therapies with Micafungin Eradicate Catheter-Based Biofilms and Infections Caused by Candida albicans and Candida parapsilosis in Neutropenic Rabbit Models
by Ruta Petraitiene, Vidmantas Petraitis, Myo H. Zaw, Kaiser Hussain, Rodolfo J. Ricart Arbona, Emanuel Roilides and Thomas J. Walsh
J. Fungi 2024, 10(4), 293; https://doi.org/10.3390/jof10040293 - 17 Apr 2024
Abstract
Vascular catheter-related infections, primarily caused by Candida albicans and Candida parapsilosis, pose significant challenges due to the formation of biofilms on catheters, leading to refractory disease and considerable morbidity. We studied the efficacy of micafungin in systemic and lock therapies to eliminate [...] Read more.
Vascular catheter-related infections, primarily caused by Candida albicans and Candida parapsilosis, pose significant challenges due to the formation of biofilms on catheters, leading to refractory disease and considerable morbidity. We studied the efficacy of micafungin in systemic and lock therapies to eliminate catheter-based biofilms and deep tissue infections in experimental central venous catheter (CVC)-related candidemia in neutropenic rabbits. Silastic CVCs in rabbits were inoculated with 1 × 103 CFU/mL of C. albicans or C. parapsilosis, establishing catheter-based biofilm, and subjected to various treatments. Neutropenic rabbits treated with a combination of lock therapy and systemic micafungin demonstrated the most significant reduction in fungal burden, from 5.0 × 104 to 1.8 × 102 CFU/mL of C. albicans and from 5.9 × 104 to 2.7 × 102 CFU/mL of C. parapsilosis (p ≤ 0.001), in the CVC after 24 h, with full clearance of blood cultures after 72 h from treatment initiation. The combination of lock and systemic micafungin therapy achieved eradication of C. albicans from all studied tissues (0.0 ± 0.0 log CFU/g) vs. untreated controls (liver 7.5 ± 0.22, spleen 8.3 ± 0.25, kidney 8.6 ± 0.07, cerebrum 6.3 ± 0.31, vena cava 6.6 ± 0.29, and CVC wash 2.3 ± 0.68 log CFU/g) (p ≤ 0.001). Rabbits treated with a combination of lock and systemic micafungin therapy demonstrated a ≥2 log reduction in C. parapsilosis in all treated tissues (p ≤ 0.05) except kidney. Serum (1→3)-β-D-glucan levels demonstrated significant decreases in response to treatment. The study demonstrates that combining systemic and lock therapies with micafungin effectively eradicates catheter-based biofilms and infections caused by C. albicans or C. parapsilosis, particularly in persistently neutropenic conditions, offering promising implications for managing vascular catheter-related candidemia and providing clinical benefits in cases where catheter removal is not feasible. Full article
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