237 journals awarded Impact Factor

16 pages, 3887 KiB
Article
Research on Monitoring Technology for Frame Piers of Continuous Box-Girder Bridges Constructed by the Cantilever Method
by Fanggang Liu, Lixiong Gu, Haishan Fu, Xinping Li, Xiaolong Zhao, Niujing Ma and Shixun Liu
Buildings 2024, 14(8), 2409; https://doi.org/10.3390/buildings14082409 (registering DOI) - 4 Aug 2024
Abstract
This paper focuses on the analysis of the stress state of a large-span frame pier-continuous box girder bridge with pier crossbeams anchored by pier crossbeams on the main pier of the Guangfo-Zhao Expressway. The bridge is constructed by the cantilever method, and a [...] Read more.
This paper focuses on the analysis of the stress state of a large-span frame pier-continuous box girder bridge with pier crossbeams anchored by pier crossbeams on the main pier of the Guangfo-Zhao Expressway. The bridge is constructed by the cantilever method, and a refined finite element model of the entire bridge is established using the finite element software Midas/FEA to analyze the stress state of the frame pier during the cantilever construction process. It is found that under the possible combined action of an unbalanced load during construction, the torsional resistance of the frame pier crossbeam does not meet the requirements of the design code. In order to eliminate the torsion of the frame piers, counterweights were used to monitor the frame piers during the construction of the box girders. In this paper, the theoretical calculation formula of the inclination angle of the end section of the frame pier crossbeam with the change of unbalanced bending moment, the calculation formula of the relationship between the horizontal displacement of the frame pier and the unbalanced bending moment, and the calculation formula corresponding to the relationship with the water tank counterweight are derived using the structural mechanics method. Two monitoring methods for the frame pier are proposed. In the construction monitoring of the bridge, the numerical fitting formula obtained by finite element numerical analysis calculation is compared with the calculated formula obtained by substituting the design parameters of the frame pier into the theoretical formula. The basic constants in both formulas are basically equal, verifying the correctness of the monitoring calculation formula proposed in this paper for the torsional resistance of the frame pier crossbeam. The applicability of the two monitoring methods is also compared and analyzed. This paper takes the main pier of Chaoyang overpass’s mainline bridge as the engineering background, which adopts the framework pier with a large-span prestressed concrete continuous box girder bridge. It analyzes the torsional state of the beam of the framework pier during the bridge construction process and conducts research on the construction monitoring of the framework pier crossbeam, providing valuable references for the construction monitoring of framework pier crossbeams in the construction of large-span framework pier continuous bridges in the future. The research results of this paper can provide assistance for the construction monitoring of similar projects. This paper’s innovation primarily resides in employing structural mechanics methods to compute the torsion of frame piers. On this basis, a simplified beam torsion calculation formula is proposed to strengthen its practical application in construction monitoring. The findings of this paper can help in the construction monitoring of similar projects. Full article
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13 pages, 945 KiB
Article
Thermodynamic Studies of Complexes in Cu(II)/Uridine-5′-Diphosphoglucuronic Acid System
by Klaudia Stachowiak, Michal Zabiszak, Jakub Grajewski, Anna Teubert, Anna Bajek and Renata Jastrzab
Molecules 2024, 29(15), 3695; https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules29153695 (registering DOI) - 4 Aug 2024
Abstract
A binary system of uridine-5’-diphosphoglucuronic acid with copper (II) ions was studied. Potentiometric studies in aqueous solutions using computer data analysis were carried out. The pH of dominance, the overall stability constants (logβ), and the equilibrium constants of the formation reaction [...] Read more.
A binary system of uridine-5’-diphosphoglucuronic acid with copper (II) ions was studied. Potentiometric studies in aqueous solutions using computer data analysis were carried out. The pH of dominance, the overall stability constants (logβ), and the equilibrium constants of the formation reaction (logKe) were determined for each complex compound formed in the studied system. Spectroscopic studies were carried out to determine the mode of coordination in the compounds studied. Cytotoxicity and metabolic activity tests of the compounds obtained showed an increase in the biological activity of the complexes tested against the free ligand. The current research may contribute to the knowledge of complex compounds of biomolecules found in the human body and may also contribute to the characterization of a group of complex compounds with potential anticancer properties. Full article
23 pages, 10532 KiB
Article
The Spatiotemporal Matching Relationship between Metro Networks and Urban Population from an Evolutionary Perspective: Passive Adaptation or Active Guidance?
by Kexin Lei, Quanhua Hou, Yaqiong Duan, Yafei Xi, Su Chen, Yitong Miao, Haiyan Tong and Ziye Hu
Land 2024, 13(8), 1200; https://doi.org/10.3390/land13081200 (registering DOI) - 4 Aug 2024
Abstract
With the operation of the first route in Xi’an City, the matching relationship between the metro networks and the urban population is a root factor affecting the utilization of rail transit facilities. The mismatch between the metro networks and the urban population has [...] Read more.
With the operation of the first route in Xi’an City, the matching relationship between the metro networks and the urban population is a root factor affecting the utilization of rail transit facilities. The mismatch between the metro networks and the urban population has led to an imbalance between the supply and demand for rail transport, resulting in wasted urban infrastructure. Based on this issue, the research objective is to focus on the spatiotemporal variations of the matching relationship. Firstly, the topological network model abstractly extracted metro spatial distribution features, and the spatial autocorrelation model was adopted to identify the evolution characteristics of the metro networks and urban population. Secondly, this paper adopted a time-lagged regression model to demonstrate the action relationship from 2011 to 2021. Then, the compositive coordination index was utilized to assess the variation of the global matching relationship. Finally, the paper explored spatial heterogeneity through the coupling coherence degree attached to grid cells. The research results indicate that the Moran’s I value of metro elements decreased from 0.782 to 0.510 with the further complexity of topological networks, while the population was consistently high in spatial dependence with a Moran’s I value of around 0.75 during the decade. Based on the regression coefficients and significance, this paper verified the hypothesis that the metro networks and urban population had a positive time-lagged feedback effect in urban development. From 2011 to 2021, the compositive coordination index symbolizing the global matching relationship increased from 0.29 to 0.90, but the coupling coherence degree shows significant spatial heterogeneity in different grid units. Differentiated spatial planning strategies were proposed for varied areas to efficiently utilize rail transit, which may provide a reference for other cities with the same reality problem. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue A Livable City: Rational Land Use and Sustainable Urban Space)
12 pages, 1015 KiB
Article
Metabolic Network Analysis Reveals Human Impact on Urban Nitrogen Cycles
by Yong Min, Hong Li, Ying Ge and Jie Chang
Land 2024, 13(8), 1199; https://doi.org/10.3390/land13081199 (registering DOI) - 4 Aug 2024
Abstract
Human interactions have led to the emergence of a higher complexity of urban metabolic networks; hence, traditional natural- or agriculture-oriented biogeochemical models might not be transferred well to urban environments. Increasingly serious environmental problems require the development of new concepts and models. Here, [...] Read more.
Human interactions have led to the emergence of a higher complexity of urban metabolic networks; hence, traditional natural- or agriculture-oriented biogeochemical models might not be transferred well to urban environments. Increasingly serious environmental problems require the development of new concepts and models. Here, we propose a basic paradigm for urban–rural complex nitrogen (N) metabolic network reconstruction (NMNR) by introducing new concepts and methodologies from systems biology at the molecular scale, analyzing both local and global structural properties and exploring optimization and regulation methods. Using the Great Hangzhou Areas System (GHA) as a case study, we revealed that pathway fluxes follow a power law distribution, which indicates that human-dominated pathways constitute the principal part of the functions of the whole network. However, only 1.16% of the effective cycling pathways and an average hamming distance of only 5.23 between the main pathways indicate that the network lacks diverse pathways and feedback loops, which could lead to low robustness. Furthermore, more than half of the N fluxes did not pass through core metabolism, causing waste and pollution. We also provided strategies to design network structures and regulate system function: improving robustness and reducing pollution by referring to the characteristics of biochemical metabolic networks (e.g., the bow-tie structure). This method can be used to replace the trial-and-error method in system regulation and design. By decomposing the GHA N metabolic network into 4398 metabolic pathways and the corresponding fluxes with a power law distribution, NMNR helps us quantify the vulnerability in the current urban nitrogen cycle. The basic ideas and methodology in NMNR can be applied to coupled human and natural systems to advance global sustainable development studies, and they can also extend systems biology from the molecule to complex ecosystems and lead to the development of multi-scale unified theory in systems biology. Full article
27 pages, 1932 KiB
Article
Effects on the Indoor Environment in a Stable for Horses in Winter: A Case Study
by Pavel Kic, Marie Wohlmuthová and Lucie Starostová
Agriculture 2024, 14(8), 1287; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture14081287 (registering DOI) - 4 Aug 2024
Abstract
The aim of this article is to show the most significant factors influencing the indoor environment in winter considering the operating conditions of an older stable modified for housing 12 horses and an indoor riding arena for teaching and sports purposes. This research [...] Read more.
The aim of this article is to show the most significant factors influencing the indoor environment in winter considering the operating conditions of an older stable modified for housing 12 horses and an indoor riding arena for teaching and sports purposes. This research focused on assessing the influences affecting the internal environment from the point of view of the construction of the building and ventilation control in the operating conditions of working and non-working days. The analysis of the results showed that the massive masonry structure has sufficient thermal insulation and accumulation, which was manifested by good temperature stability inside the stable of 7.2 ± 1.7 °C when the outside air temperature was −4.80 ± 1.5 °C. At low outdoor air temperatures of −6.44 ± 0.4 °C, the following conditions were found: a higher relative air humidity (76.0 ± 5.3%), a high CO2 concentration 2317.1 ± 931.7 ppm, and a high airborne dust concentration PM10 = 231.94 ± 19.13 μg·m−3 and PM2.5 = 160.13 ± 6.28 μg·m−3. Therefore, it is necessary to improve the solution and function of the stable ventilation. The small size of the windows and their uneven distribution (average daylight factor ei from 0.313 ± 0.154 to 0.835 ± 0.309) caused insufficient daylight in some individual boxes. Full article
28 pages, 1160 KiB
Article
SLAKA-IoD: A Secure and Lightweight Authentication and Key Agreement Protocol for Internet of Drones
by Yuelei Xiao and Yu Tao
Drones 2024, 8(8), 374; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones8080374 (registering DOI) - 4 Aug 2024
Abstract
The existing authentication and key agreement (AKA) schemes for the internet of drones (IoD) still suffer from various security attacks and fail to ensure required security properties. Moreover, drones generally have limited memory and computation capability. Motivated by these issues, a secure and [...] Read more.
The existing authentication and key agreement (AKA) schemes for the internet of drones (IoD) still suffer from various security attacks and fail to ensure required security properties. Moreover, drones generally have limited memory and computation capability. Motivated by these issues, a secure and lightweight AKA protocol for IoD (SLAKA-IoD) is proposed based on physical unclonable function (PUF), “exclusive or” (XOR) operation and hash function, which are simple cryptographic operations and functions that can provide better performance. In the SLAKA-IoD protocol, a drone and the ground station (GS) perform mutual authentication and establish a secure session key between them, and any two drones can also perform mutual authentication and establish a secure session key between them. Via informal security analysis, formal security analysis using the strand space model, and security verification based on the Scyther tool, the SLAKA-IoD protocol is proven to resist various security attacks and ensure required security properties. Further comparative analysis shows that the SLAKA-IoD protocol can provide more security features, and is generally lightweight as compared with these related AKA protocols for IoD, so it is suitable for IoD. Full article
19 pages, 2919 KiB
Article
The Influence of the Fire Point on the Thermal Dynamic Disaster in the Goaf
by Xiaokun Chen, Chao Song and Zhipeng Zhang
Fire 2024, 7(8), 270; https://doi.org/10.3390/fire7080270 (registering DOI) - 4 Aug 2024
Abstract
A thermal dynamic disaster in the goaf is one of the most serious coal mine disasters formed by coal spontaneous combustion and gas interweaving. However, the influence of the high-temperature hidden fire source formed in the goaf on the evolution law of thermal [...] Read more.
A thermal dynamic disaster in the goaf is one of the most serious coal mine disasters formed by coal spontaneous combustion and gas interweaving. However, the influence of the high-temperature hidden fire source formed in the goaf on the evolution law of thermal dynamic disasters is not clear, and effective prevention and control measures cannot be taken. Therefore, this paper uses the experimental platform of thermal dynamic disaster in the goaf to study the influence of different fire point positions on the development of thermal dynamic disaster in the goaf through a similar simulation experiment of thermal dynamic disaster evolution in the goaf and analyzes the corresponding relationship between temperature and CO concentration in the upper corner. The results show that under different locations of heat source, the high-temperature heat source of coal spontaneous combustion migrates to the air leakage side with sufficient oxygen supply, and an oxygen-poor circle is formed near the ignition point. Under the action of air leakage flow, CH4 accumulates in the deep part of the goaf on the return air side. Due to the increase in coal, part of CH4 is produced, which leads to the increase in concentration of CH4 at the ignition point. Under the action of different heat sources, the changing trend of concentration of CO and temperature in the return air corner is the same, but the temperature change in the return air corner shows a lag compared with the change in the concentration of CO, so concentration monitoring of CO can reflect the evolution process of the fire field in the goaf more quickly than temperature monitoring. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Prevention and Control of Mine Fire)
20 pages, 4941 KiB
Article
Liver-Targeted Nanoparticles Loaded with Cannabidiol Based on Redox Response for Effective Alleviation of Acute Liver Injury
by Xuan Zhang, Xiangzhou Yi, Xia Gao, Yongcheng Li and Xuanri Shen
Foods 2024, 13(15), 2464; https://doi.org/10.3390/foods13152464 (registering DOI) - 4 Aug 2024
Abstract
The purpose of this work was to construct liver-targeted nanoparticles based on the redox response to effectively deliver cannabidiol (CBD) for the prevention of acute liver injury (ALI). CBD-loaded nanoparticles (CBD NPs) with a particle size of 126.5 ± 1.56 nm were prepared [...] Read more.
The purpose of this work was to construct liver-targeted nanoparticles based on the redox response to effectively deliver cannabidiol (CBD) for the prevention of acute liver injury (ALI). CBD-loaded nanoparticles (CBD NPs) with a particle size of 126.5 ± 1.56 nm were prepared using the polymer DA-PP-LA obtained by grafting pullulan polysaccharide with deoxycholic acid (DA) and α-lipoic acid (α-LA). CBD NPs showed typical redox-response release behavior. Interestingly, CBD NPs exhibited admirable liver targeting ability, significantly accumulated in the liver, and effectively promoted the internalization of CBD in liver cells, thus effectively reducing the H2O2-induced oxidative damage of HepG2 cells and avoiding apoptosis. More importantly, CBD NPs effectively prevented CCl4-induced ALI by protecting liver function, ameliorating oxidative stress levels, inhibiting the production of inflammatory factors, and protecting the liver from histological damage. This study provides a promising strategy for achieving targeted delivery of CBD NPs in the liver, thereby effectively preventing ALI. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Nutraceuticals, Functional Foods, and Novel Foods)
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11 pages, 1735 KiB
Article
Microbial Biogeography along the Gastrointestinal Tract of a Wild Chinese Muntjac (Muntiacus reevesi)
by Yuan Liu, Yan Shu, Yuling Huang, Jinchao Tan, Fengmei Wang, Lin Tang, Tingting Fang, Shibin Yuan and Le Wang
Microorganisms 2024, 12(8), 1587; https://doi.org/10.3390/microorganisms12081587 (registering DOI) - 4 Aug 2024
Abstract
The gut microbiota plays an important role in host nutrient absorption, immune function, and behavioral patterns. Much research on the gut microbiota of wildlife has focused on feces samples, so the microbial composition along the gastrointestinal tract of wildlife is not well reported. [...] Read more.
The gut microbiota plays an important role in host nutrient absorption, immune function, and behavioral patterns. Much research on the gut microbiota of wildlife has focused on feces samples, so the microbial composition along the gastrointestinal tract of wildlife is not well reported. To address this gap, we performed high-throughput sequencing of 16s rRNA genes and ITs rRNA genes in the gastrointestinal contents of a wild adult male Chinese muntjac (Muntiacus reevesi) to comparatively analyze the microbial diversity of different gastrointestinal regions. The results showed that the dominant bacterial phyla were Firmicutes (66.19%) and Bacteroidetes (22.7%), while the dominant fungal phyla were Ascomycetes (72.81%). The highest bacterial diversity was found in the stomach, and the highest fungal diversity was found in the cecum. The microbial communities of the large intestine and small intestine were of similar structures, which were distinct from that of the stomach. These results would facilitate the continued exploration of the microbial composition and functional diversity of the gastrointestinal tract of wild Chinese muntjacs and provide a scientific basis for microbial resource conservation of more wildlife. Full article
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20 pages, 7423 KiB
Article
Modelling and Analysis of Vector and Vector Vortex Beams Reflection for Optical Sensing
by Wangke Yu and Jize Yan
Photonics 2024, 11(8), 729; https://doi.org/10.3390/photonics11080729 (registering DOI) - 4 Aug 2024
Abstract
Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) sensors can precisely determine object distances using the pulsed time of flight (TOF) or amplitude-modulated continuous wave (AMCW) TOF methods and velocity using the frequency-modulated continuous wave (FMCW) approach. In this paper, we focus on modelling and analysing [...] Read more.
Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) sensors can precisely determine object distances using the pulsed time of flight (TOF) or amplitude-modulated continuous wave (AMCW) TOF methods and velocity using the frequency-modulated continuous wave (FMCW) approach. In this paper, we focus on modelling and analysing the reflection of vector beams (VBs) and vector vortex beams (VVBs) for optical sensing in LiDAR applications. Unlike traditional TOF and FMCW methods, this novel approach uses VBs and VVBs as detection signals to measure the orientation of reflecting surfaces. A key component of this sensing scheme is understanding the relationship between the characteristics of the reflected optical fields and the orientation of the reflecting surface. To this end, we develop a computational model for the reflection of VBs and VVBs. This model allows us to investigate critical aspects of the reflected field, such as intensity distribution, intensity centroid offset, reflectance, and the variation of the intensity range measured along the azimuthal direction. By thoroughly analysing these characteristics, we aim to enhance the functionality of LiDAR sensors in detecting the orientation of reflecting surfaces. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Optical Vortex: Fundamentals and Applications)
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21 pages, 2588 KiB
Article
Utilization of the Drug–Polymer Solid Dispersion Obtained by Ball Milling as a Taste Masking Method in the Development of Orodispersible Minitablets with Hydrocortisone in Pediatric Doses
by Monika Trofimiuk, Katarzyna Olechno, Emil Trofimiuk, Anna Czajkowska-Kośnik, Patrycja Ciosek-Skibińska, Klaudia Głowacz, Joanna Lenik, Anna Basa, Halina Car and Katarzyna Winnicka
Pharmaceutics 2024, 16(8), 1041; https://doi.org/10.3390/pharmaceutics16081041 (registering DOI) - 4 Aug 2024
Abstract
The objective of the conducted research was to design 2 mm orodispersible minitablets of pediatric doses of hydrocortisone (0.5 mg; 1.0 mg) with desirable pharmaceutical properties and eliminate the sensation of a bitter taste using preparation of solid dispersion by ball mill. Hydrocortisone [...] Read more.
The objective of the conducted research was to design 2 mm orodispersible minitablets of pediatric doses of hydrocortisone (0.5 mg; 1.0 mg) with desirable pharmaceutical properties and eliminate the sensation of a bitter taste using preparation of solid dispersion by ball mill. Hydrocortisone was selected as the model substance, as it is widely utilized in the pediatric population. ODMTs were prepared by compression (preceded by granulation) in a traditional single-punch tablet machine and evaluated using pharmacopoeial tests, DSC, and FTIR analysis. The methods used to evaluate the effectiveness of the taste-masking effect included in vivo participation of healthy volunteers, in vitro drug dissolution and utilization of an analytical device—“electronic tongue”. The research employed a preclinical animal model to preliminary investigate the bioequivalence of the designed drug dosage form in comparison to reference products. The study confirmed the possibility of manufacturing good-quality hydrocortisone ODMTs with a taste-masking effect owing to the incorporation of a solid dispersion in the tablet mass. Full article
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17 pages, 7392 KiB
Article
Lightweight Water Surface Object Detection Network for Unmanned Surface Vehicles
by Chenlong Li, Lan Wang, Yitong Liu and Shuaike Zhang
Electronics 2024, 13(15), 3089; https://doi.org/10.3390/electronics13153089 (registering DOI) - 4 Aug 2024
Abstract
The detection algorithms for water surface objects considerably assist unmanned surface vehicles in rapidly perceiving their surrounding environment, providing essential environmental information and evaluating object attributes. This study proposes a lightweight water surface target detection algorithm called YOLO-WSD (water surface detection), based on [...] Read more.
The detection algorithms for water surface objects considerably assist unmanned surface vehicles in rapidly perceiving their surrounding environment, providing essential environmental information and evaluating object attributes. This study proposes a lightweight water surface target detection algorithm called YOLO-WSD (water surface detection), based on YOLOv8n, to address the need for real-time, high-precision, and lightweight target detection algorithms that can adapt to the rapid changes in the surrounding environment during specific tasks. Initially, we designed the C2F-E module, enriched in gradient flow compared to the conventional C2F module, enabling the backbone network to extract richer multi-level features while maintaining lightness. Additionally, this study redesigns the feature fusion network structure by introducing low-level features and achieving multi-level fusion to enhance the network’s capability of integrating multiple levels. Meanwhile, it investigates the impact of channel number differences in the Concat module fusion on model performance, thereby optimizing the neural network structure. Lastly, it introduces the WIOU localization loss function to bolster model robustness. Experiments demonstrated that YOLO-WSD achieves a 4.6% and 3.4% improvement in mAP0.5 on the water surface object detection dataset and Seaship public dataset, respectively, with recall rates improving by 5.4% and 8.5% relative to the baseline YOLOv8n model. The model’s parameter size is 3.3 M. YOLO-WSD exhibits superior performance compared to other mainstream lightweight algorithms. Full article
(This article belongs to the Topic Computer Vision and Image Processing, 2nd Edition)
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12 pages, 4481 KiB
Article
Large-Area Perovskite Solar Module Produced by Introducing Self-Assembled L-Histidine Monolayer at TiO2 and Perovskite Interface
by Hung-Chieh Hsu, Jung-Che Tsao, Cheng-Hsien Yeh, Hsuan-Ta Wu, Chien-Te Wu, Shih-Hsiung Wu and Chuan-Feng Shih
Nanomaterials 2024, 14(15), 1315; https://doi.org/10.3390/nano14151315 (registering DOI) - 4 Aug 2024
Abstract
Perovskite solar cells have been proven to enhance cell characteristics by introducing passivation materials that suppress defect formation. Defect states between the electron transport layer and the absorption layer reduce electron extraction and carrier transport capabilities, leading to a significant decline in device [...] Read more.
Perovskite solar cells have been proven to enhance cell characteristics by introducing passivation materials that suppress defect formation. Defect states between the electron transport layer and the absorption layer reduce electron extraction and carrier transport capabilities, leading to a significant decline in device performance and stability, as well as an increased probability of non-radiative recombination. This study proposes the use of an amino acid (L-Histidine) self-assembled monolayer material between the transport layer and the perovskite absorption layer. Surface analysis revealed that the introduction of L-Histidine improved both the uniformity and roughness of the perovskite film surface. X-ray photoelectron spectroscopic analysis showed a reduction in oxygen vacancies in the lattice and an increase in Ti4+, indicating that L-Histidine successfully passivated trap states at the perovskite and TiO2 electron transport layer interface. In terms of device performance, the introduction of L-Histidine significantly improved the fill factor (FF) because the reduction in interface defects could suppress charge accumulation and reduce device hysteresis. The FF of large-area solar modules (25 cm2) with L-Histidine increased from 55% to 73%, and the power conversion efficiency (PCE) reached 16.5%. After 500 h of aging tests, the PCE still maintained 91% of its original efficiency. This study demonstrates the significant impact of L-Histidine on transport properties and showcases its potential for application in the development of large-area perovskite module processes. Full article
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11 pages, 2280 KiB
Article
In-Shoe Sensor Measures of Loading Asymmetry during Gait as a Predictor of Frailty Development in Community-Dwelling Older Adults
by Tatsuya Nakanowatari, Masayuki Hoshi, Akihiko Asao, Toshimasa Sone, Naoto Kamide, Miki Sakamoto and Yoshitaka Shiba
Sensors 2024, 24(15), 5054; https://doi.org/10.3390/s24155054 (registering DOI) - 4 Aug 2024
Abstract
Clinical walk tests may not predict the development of frailty in healthy older adults. With advancements in wearable technology, it may be possible to predict the development of frailty using loading asymmetry parameters during clinical walk tests. This prospective cohort study aimed to [...] Read more.
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Intelligent Mobile and Wearable Technologies for Digital Health)
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21 pages, 10907 KiB
Article
A Point Cloud Improvement Method for High-Resolution 4D mmWave Radar Imagery
by Qingmian Wan, Hongli Peng, Xing Liao, Weihao Li, Kuayue Liu and Junfa Mao
Remote Sens. 2024, 16(15), 2856; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs16152856 (registering DOI) - 4 Aug 2024
Abstract
To meet the requirement of autonomous driving development, high-quality point cloud generation of the environment has become the focus of 4D mmWave radar development. On the basis of mass producibility and physical verifiability, a design method for improving the quality and density of [...] Read more.
To meet the requirement of autonomous driving development, high-quality point cloud generation of the environment has become the focus of 4D mmWave radar development. On the basis of mass producibility and physical verifiability, a design method for improving the quality and density of point cloud imagery is proposed in this paper, including antenna design, array design, and the dynamic detection method. The utilization of apertures is promoted through antenna design and sparse MIMO array optimization using the genetic algorithm (GA). The hybrid strategy for complex point clouds is adopted using the proposed dynamic CFAR algorithm, which enables dynamic adjustment of the threshold by discriminating and calculating different scanning regions. The effectiveness of the proposed method is verified by simulations and practical experiments. Aiming at system manufacture, analysis methods for the ambiguity function (AF) and shooting and bouncing rays (SBR) tracing are introduced, and an mmWave radar system is realized based on the proposed method, with its performance proven by practical experiments. Full article
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10 pages, 663 KiB
Article
QuantiFERON CMV Test and CMV Serostatus in Lung Transplant: Stratification Risk for Infection, Chronic and Acute Allograft Rejection
by Paolo Solidoro, Federico Sciarrone, Francesca Sidoti, Filippo Patrucco, Elisa Zanotto, Massimo Boffini, Rocco Francesco Rinaldo, Alessandro Bondi, Carlo Albera, Antonio Curtoni and Cristina Costa
Viruses 2024, 16(8), 1251; https://doi.org/10.3390/v16081251 (registering DOI) - 4 Aug 2024
Abstract
The QuantiFERON CMV (QCMV) test evaluates specific adaptive immune system activity against CMV by measuring IFN-γ released by activated CD8+ T lymphocytes. We aimed to evaluate the QCMV test as a predictive tool for CMV manifestations and acute or chronic lung allograft rejection [...] Read more.
The QuantiFERON CMV (QCMV) test evaluates specific adaptive immune system activity against CMV by measuring IFN-γ released by activated CD8+ T lymphocytes. We aimed to evaluate the QCMV test as a predictive tool for CMV manifestations and acute or chronic lung allograft rejection (AR and CLAD) in lung transplant (LTx) patients. A total of 73 patients were divided into four groups based on donor and recipient (D/R) serology for CMV and QCMV assay: group A low-risk for CMV infection and disease (D−/R−); group B and C at intermediate-risk (R+), group B with non-reactive QCMV and group C with reactive QCMV; group D at high-risk (D+/R−). Group D patients experienced higher viral replication; no differences were observed among R+ patients of groups B and C. D+/R− patients had a higher number of AR events and group C presented a lower incidence of AR. Prevalence of CLAD at 24 months was higher in group B with a higher risk of CLAD development (OR 6.33). The QCMV test allows us to identify R+ non-reactive QCMV population as the most exposed to onset of CLAD. This population had a higher, although non-significant, susceptibility to AR compared to the R+ population with reactive QCMV. Full article
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22 pages, 851 KiB
Article
Do Directors’ Network Positions Affect Corporate Fraud?
by Sen Zeng, Longjun Xiao, Xueyan Jiang, Yiqian Huang, Yanru Li and Cao Yuan
Sustainability 2024, 16(15), 6675; https://doi.org/10.3390/su16156675 (registering DOI) - 4 Aug 2024
Abstract
Corporate fraud poses a significant obstacle for sustainable business development. Drawing on social network analysis, this paper used data originated from Chinese-listed companies from 2009 to 2022 and found that directors’ network position significantly mitigates corporate fraud. Mechanism tests indicated that the quality [...] Read more.
Corporate fraud poses a significant obstacle for sustainable business development. Drawing on social network analysis, this paper used data originated from Chinese-listed companies from 2009 to 2022 and found that directors’ network position significantly mitigates corporate fraud. Mechanism tests indicated that the quality of external auditors and internal control play a mediating role in this relationship. Further analysis showed that the network positions of independent directors, non-independent directors, and female directors individually inhibit the inclination of corporate fraud when considering various types of directors. Of note, the busy director hypothesis was not applicable in explaining the impact of directors’ network position on corporate fraud. This study provides a new approach to improving the sustainability of enterprises in newly emerging markets via the analysis of director networks. It is also beneficial to the research on director networks and corporate fraud in companies, offering insights for corporate governance and fraud prevention in companies and regulatory agencies. Full article
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30 pages, 16726 KiB
Article
Co-Pyrolysis of Mushroom Residue Blended with Pine Sawdust/Wheat Straw for Sustainable Utilization of Biomass Wastes: Thermal Characteristics, Kinetic/Thermodynamic Analysis, and Structure Evolution of Co-Pyrolytic Char
by Haiyu Meng, Heng Yang, Zhiqiang Wu, Danting Li, Zhe Wang, Dongqi Wang, Hui Wang, Huaien Li and Jiake Li
Sustainability 2024, 16(15), 6677; https://doi.org/10.3390/su16156677 (registering DOI) - 4 Aug 2024
Abstract
Co-pyrolysis technology is considered to be one of the most promising methods for the sustainable utilization of biomass wastes, as it can realize waste reduction and convert wastes into high-value-added products with little impact on the environment. The evaluation of thermal characteristics and [...] Read more.
Co-pyrolysis technology is considered to be one of the most promising methods for the sustainable utilization of biomass wastes, as it can realize waste reduction and convert wastes into high-value-added products with little impact on the environment. The evaluation of thermal characteristics and product properties is necessary for understanding this technique. In this paper, thermal characteristics and kinetic and thermodynamic analysis during the co-pyrolysis of mushroom residue (MR) with pine sawdust (PS) or wheat straw (WS) were investigated in a TGA. The carbon structure and surface textures of co-pyrolytic char were explored using Raman spectroscopy and a scanning electron microscope. As the PS or WS mass ratio increased, the devolatilization index increased obviously, indicating that volatile release was promoted and concentrated. Weak interactions were observed between 250 and 400 °C during the co-pyrolysis process, which primarily affected the mass transfer, resulting in a change in the thermal decomposition temperatures and rates. The interactions had no prominent influence on the volatiles’ yields. The non-additive performance of average activation energies for the blends was observed due to the interactions, and the lowest average activation energy was obtained when the PS or WS mass ratio was 50%. The lower average pre-exponential factor of the blends indicated the reduced complicacy of the pyrolysis reaction. The relatively small deviation between the activation energy and enthalpy change (4.94–5.18 kJ·mol−1) signified the energy sensitivity of product formation. PS promoted the formation of small aromatic rings (<6 fused rings) in co-pyrolytic chars, whereas WS favored the production of larger rings (≥6 fused rings). The surface textures of the co-pyrolytic chars became porous, and the greater fractal dimensions of the surface morphology for the co-pyrolytic chars indicated that the char surface became irregular and rough. Full article
26 pages, 15092 KiB
Article
Advancing Sustainable Construction: Discrete Modular Systems & Robotic Assembly
by Yuxi Liu, Boris Belousov, Tim Schneider, Kevin Harsono, Tsung-Wei Cheng, Shen-Guan Shih, Oliver Tessmann and Jan Peters
Sustainability 2024, 16(15), 6678; https://doi.org/10.3390/su16156678 (registering DOI) - 4 Aug 2024
Abstract
This research explores the SL-Block system within an architecture framework by embracing building modularity, combinatorial design, topological interlocking, machine learning, and tactile sensor-based robotic assembly. The SL-Block, composed of S and L-shaped tetracubes, possesses a unique self-interlocking feature that allows for reversible joining [...] Read more.
This research explores the SL-Block system within an architecture framework by embracing building modularity, combinatorial design, topological interlocking, machine learning, and tactile sensor-based robotic assembly. The SL-Block, composed of S and L-shaped tetracubes, possesses a unique self-interlocking feature that allows for reversible joining and the creation of various 2D or 3D structures. In architecture modularity, the high degree of reconfigurability and adaptability of the SL-Block system introduces a new element of interest. Unlike modularization strategies that emphasize large-scale volumetric modules or standardized building components, using small-scale generic building blocks provides greater flexibility in maximizing design variations and reusability. Furthermore, the serial repetition and limited connectivity of building elements reduce the efforts required for bespoke manufacturing and automated assembly. In this article, we present our digital design and robotic assembly strategies for developing dry-jointed modular construction with SL-Blocks. Drawing on combinatorics and graph theory, we propose computational design methods that can automatically generate hierarchical SL-Block assemblies from given shapes. To address the physical complexities of contact-rich assembly tasks, we develop robotics using two distinct methods: pre-programmed assembly and sensor-based reinforcement learning. Through a series of demonstrators, we showcase the ability of SL-Blocks not only to reconfigure conventional building tectonics but also to create new building configurations. Full article
21 pages, 8502 KiB
Article
Habituation of Central and Electrodermal Responses to an Auditory Two-Stimulus Oddball Paradigm
by Gianluca Rho, Alejandro Luis Callara, Enzo Pasquale Scilingo, Alberto Greco and Luca Bonfiglio
Sensors 2024, 24(15), 5053; https://doi.org/10.3390/s24155053 (registering DOI) - 4 Aug 2024
Abstract
The orienting reaction (OR) towards a new stimulus is subject to habituation, i.e., progressively attenuates with stimulus repetition. The skin conductance responses (SCRs) are known to represent a reliable measure of OR at the peripheral level. Yet, it is still a matter of [...] Read more.
The orienting reaction (OR) towards a new stimulus is subject to habituation, i.e., progressively attenuates with stimulus repetition. The skin conductance responses (SCRs) are known to represent a reliable measure of OR at the peripheral level. Yet, it is still a matter of debate which of the P3 subcomponents is the most likely to represent the central counterpart of the OR. The aim of the present work was to study habituation, recovery, and dishabituation phenomena intrinsic to a two-stimulus auditory oddball paradigm, one of the most-used paradigms both in research and clinic, by simultaneously recording SCRs and P3 in twenty healthy volunteers. Our findings show that the target stimulus was capable of triggering a more marked OR, as indexed by both SCRs and P3, compared to the standard stimulus, that could be due to its affective saliency and relevance for task completion; the application of temporal principal components analysis (PCA) to the P3 complex allowed us to identify several subcomponents including both early and late P3a (eP3a; lP3a), P3b, novelty P3 (nP3), and both a positive and a negative Slow Wave (+SW; −SW). Particularly, lP3a and P3b subcomponents showed a similar behavior to that observed for SCRs , suggesting them as central counterparts of OR. Finally, the P3 evoked by the first standard stimulus after the target showed a significant dishabituation phenomenon which could represent a sign of the local stimulus change. However, it did not reach a sufficient level to trigger an SCR/OR since it did not represent a salient event in the context of the task. Full article
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11 pages, 824 KiB
Article
Using Different Cage Enrichments to Improve Rabbits’ Performance, Behavior, and Welfare
by Menna Elsayed, Farid Soliman, Osama Elghalid and Karim El-Sabrout
Animals 2024, 14(15), 2271; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani14152271 (registering DOI) - 4 Aug 2024
Abstract
Environmental enrichment is about improving the surroundings in which your animal lives by providing opportunities to express behavioral activity normally, which in turn has a great impact on the animal’s welfare and productivity. The aim of the present study is to investigate the [...] Read more.
Environmental enrichment is about improving the surroundings in which your animal lives by providing opportunities to express behavioral activity normally, which in turn has a great impact on the animal’s welfare and productivity. The aim of the present study is to investigate the impact of using different enrichment cage tools (a rubber floor, plastic-colored balls, and a mirror) on rabbits’ physiology, productivity, carcass quality, behavior, and welfare. A total of 84 weaned rabbits (V-line) were randomly and equally assigned to 4 groups, each with 7 replicates (3 rabbits/replicate). The 1st rabbit group (T1) served as a control, while the 2nd group (T2) was enriched with rubber floors. The 3rd group (T3) was enriched with plastic-colored balls, and the 4th group (T4) was enriched with mirrors. Productive traits, including the weekly body weight and feed intake, as well as the carcass characteristics, were measured. Hematological parameters and biochemical constituents were determined according to the reference’s description. Furthermore, behavioral activities, such as walking, resting, feeding, and drinking, were observed. According to the results, enriching the rabbit cages with plastic-colored balls and mirrors improved the marketing body weight and feed conversion rate. It also improved carcass quality characteristics, such as the carcass weight and dressing percentage. The T3 and T4 rabbits had higher RBCS, Hb, and hematocrit levels as well as lower WBCS levels. They also had significantly higher total protein, globulin, glucose, AST, and IgG values than other treatments. In addition, they had significantly lower corticosterone levels and fear responses. Therefore, it is recommended to use plastic-colored balls and mirrors for rabbit farming for better productivity, behavior, and welfare. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Enrichment in Farm Animals)
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14 pages, 1164 KiB
Article
Hemodialysis without Systemic Anticoagulation: A Randomized Controlled Trial to Evaluate Five Strategies in Patients at a High Risk of Bleeding
by Pedro H. Franca Gois, David McIntyre, Sharad Ratanjee, Anita Pelecanos, Carla Scuderi, Chungun L. Janoschka, Kara Summers, Haibing Wu, Belinda Elford, Dwarakanathan Ranganathan and Helen G. Healy
Med. Sci. 2024, 12(3), 38; https://doi.org/10.3390/medsci12030038 (registering DOI) - 4 Aug 2024
Abstract
Background: There has been growing interest in exploring combined interventions to achieve a more effective heparin-free treatment approach. Aim: to evaluate combination of interventions compared to standard practice (intermittent flushes) to prevent clotting and consequently reduce premature interruptions of hemodialysis. Methods: This open-label [...] Read more.
Background: There has been growing interest in exploring combined interventions to achieve a more effective heparin-free treatment approach. Aim: to evaluate combination of interventions compared to standard practice (intermittent flushes) to prevent clotting and consequently reduce premature interruptions of hemodialysis. Methods: This open-label randomized controlled trial recruited chronic hemodialysis patients with contra-indication to systemic heparinization. Participants were randomized into one of five groups to receive different strategies of heparin-free hemodialysis treatment for up to three sessions. Primary endpoint: the successful completion of hemodialysis without clotting. Secondary outcomes: the clotting of the air traps assessed by a semi-quantitative scale, online KT/V, and safety of the interventions. Results: Forty participants were recruited and randomized between May and December 2020. Participants showed similar baseline biochemistry results and coagulation profiles. The highest success rates were observed in group 3 (heparin-coated dialyzers combined with intermittent flushes) (100%) and group 5 (hemodiafiltration with online predilution combined with heparin-coated dialyzers), with 91% vs. the control (intermittent flushes) (64%). Group 2 (heparin-coated dialyzers alone) had the poorest success rate, with 38% of the sessions being prematurely terminated due to clotting. KT/V and clotting scores were similar between groups. No adverse events related to the trial interventions were observed. Conclusions: The proposed combination of interventions may have had additive effects, leading to less frequent clotting and the premature termination of an HD/HDF session. Our study supports the feasibility of conducting a larger randomized controlled trial focusing on the efficacy of combined interventions for heparin-free HD in patients with a high risk of bleeding. Full article
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16 pages, 3954 KiB
Review
Supercritical Fluids: An Innovative Strategy for Drug Development
by Hui Liu, Xiaoliu Liang, Yisheng Peng, Gang Liu and Hongwei Cheng
Bioengineering 2024, 11(8), 788; https://doi.org/10.3390/bioengineering11080788 (registering DOI) - 4 Aug 2024
Abstract
Nanotechnology plays a pivotal role in the biomedical field, especially in the synthesis and regulation of drug particle size. Reducing drug particles to the micron or nanometer scale can enhance bioavailability. Supercritical fluid technology, as a green drug development strategy, is expected to [...] Read more.
Nanotechnology plays a pivotal role in the biomedical field, especially in the synthesis and regulation of drug particle size. Reducing drug particles to the micron or nanometer scale can enhance bioavailability. Supercritical fluid technology, as a green drug development strategy, is expected to resolve the challenges of thermal degradation, uneven particle size, and organic solvent residue faced by traditional methods such as milling and crystallization. This paper provides an insight into the application of super-stable homogeneous intermix formulating technology (SHIFT) and super-table pure-nanomedicine formulation technology (SPFT) developed based on supercritical fluids for drug dispersion and micronization. These technologies significantly enhance the solubility and permeability of hydrophobic drugs by controlling the particle size and morphology, and the modified drugs show excellent therapeutic efficacy in the treatment of hepatocellular carcinoma, pathological scarring, and corneal neovascularization, and their performance and efficacy are highlighted when administered through multiple routes of administration. Overall, supercritical fluids have opened a green and efficient pathway for clinical drug development, which is expected to reduce side effects and enhance therapeutic efficacy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue 10th Anniversary of Bioengineering: Perspectives in Bioengineering)
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18 pages, 2957 KiB
Article
A Novel Two-level Protection Scheme Against Hardware Trojans on a Reconfigurable CNN Accelerator
by Zichu Liu, Jia Hou, Jianfei Wang and Chen Yang
Cryptography 2024, 8(3), 34; https://doi.org/10.3390/cryptography8030034 (registering DOI) - 4 Aug 2024
Abstract
With the boom in artificial intelligence (AI), numerous reconfigurable convolution neural network (CNN) accelerators have emerged within both industry and academia, aiming to enhance AI computing capabilities. However, this rapid landscape has also witnessed a rise in hardware Trojan attacks targeted at CNN [...] Read more.
With the boom in artificial intelligence (AI), numerous reconfigurable convolution neural network (CNN) accelerators have emerged within both industry and academia, aiming to enhance AI computing capabilities. However, this rapid landscape has also witnessed a rise in hardware Trojan attacks targeted at CNN accelerators, thereby posing substantial threats to the reliability and security of these reconfigurable systems. Despite this escalating concern, there exists a scarcity of security protection schemes explicitly tailored to counteract hardware Trojans embedded in reconfigurable CNN accelerators, and those that do exist exhibit notable deficiencies. Addressing these gaps, this paper introduces a dedicated security scheme designed to mitigate the vulnerabilities associated with hardware Trojans implanted in reconfigurable CNN accelerators. The proposed security protection scheme operates at two distinct levels: the first level is geared towards preventing the triggering of the hardware Trojan, while the second level focuses on detecting the presence of a hardware Trojan post-triggering and subsequently neutralizing its potential harm. Through experimental evaluation, our results demonstrate that this two-level protection scheme is capable of mitigating at least 99.88% of the harm cause by three different types of hardware Trojan (i.e., Trojan within RI, MAC and ReLU) within reconfigurable CNN accelerators. Furthermore, this scheme can prevent hardware Trojans from triggering whose trigger signal is derived from a processing element (PE). Notably, the proposed scheme is implemented and validated on a Xilinx Zynq XC7Z100 platform. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Emerging Topics in Hardware Security)

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