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17 pages, 1401 KiB  
Article
A Study on the Emotional Tendency of Aquatic Product Quality and Safety Texts Based on Emotional Dictionaries and Deep Learning
Appl. Sci. 2024, 14(5), 2119; https://doi.org/10.3390/app14052119 (registering DOI) - 04 Mar 2024
Abstract
The issue of aquatic product quality and safety has gradually become a focal point of societal concern. Analyzing textual comments from people about aquatic products aids in promptly understanding the current sentiment landscape regarding the quality and safety of aquatic products. To address [...] Read more.
The issue of aquatic product quality and safety has gradually become a focal point of societal concern. Analyzing textual comments from people about aquatic products aids in promptly understanding the current sentiment landscape regarding the quality and safety of aquatic products. To address the challenge of the polysemy of modern network buzzwords in word vector representation, we construct a custom sentiment lexicon and employ the Roberta-wwm-ext model to extract semantic feature representations from comment texts. Subsequently, the obtained semantic features of words are put into a bidirectional LSTM model for sentiment classification. This paper validates the effectiveness of the proposed model in the sentiment analysis of aquatic product quality and safety texts by constructing two datasets, one for salmon and one for shrimp, sourced from comments on JD.com. Multiple comparative experiments were conducted to assess the performance of the model on these datasets. The experimental results demonstrate significant achievements using the proposed model, achieving a classification accuracy of 95.49%. This represents a notable improvement of 6.42 percentage points compared to using Word2Vec and a 2.06 percentage point improvement compared to using BERT as the word embedding model. Furthermore, it outperforms LSTM by 2.22 percentage points and textCNN by 2.86 percentage points in terms of semantic extraction models. The outstanding effectiveness of the proposed method is strongly validated by these results. It provides more accurate technical support for calculating the concentration of negative emotions using a risk assessment system in public opinion related to quality and safety. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Applications—2nd Edition)
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11 pages, 2251 KiB  
Article
Lithium on CH Divacancy Self-Healed Graphane: A First-Principles Study
Nanoenergy Adv. 2024, 4(1), 122-132; https://doi.org/10.3390/nanoenergyadv4010007 (registering DOI) - 04 Mar 2024
Abstract
The possibility of using graphane monolayer crystals as an electrode material is becoming popular. Graphane is stable at room temperature and has a large surface area, but its chemical inertness hinders its direct interactions with Li ions. In this study, we performed density [...] Read more.
The possibility of using graphane monolayer crystals as an electrode material is becoming popular. Graphane is stable at room temperature and has a large surface area, but its chemical inertness hinders its direct interactions with Li ions. In this study, we performed density functional theory calculations to study the energetic stability and structural and electronic properties of Li on graphane with various CH divacancy configurations (v12, v13, and v14). The results show that the adsorption of the Li atom reduces the formation energy of the CH divacancy configurations. The Li-v12 is most stable with the highest binding energy of 3.25 eV/Li and relaxes to in-plane with other C atoms. Altering the Li charge state to have Li−1-v12 or Li+1-v12 affects the energetic stability and electronic characters of Li-v12. The Li−1-v12 (Li+1-v12) slightly (greatly) reduces the binding force between the Li and v12 configuration, and furthermore it improves (deteriorates) the conductivity of the structure. Further investigation of graphane with vacancies is encouraged due to these intriguing observations, as it holds promise for potential utilization as an electrode material. Full article
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14 pages, 8332 KiB  
Article
Study on Grease Lubrication and Electric Erosion Characteristics in AC Electric Fields
Lubricants 2024, 12(3), 79; https://doi.org/10.3390/lubricants12030079 (registering DOI) - 04 Mar 2024
Abstract
Protecting motor bearings from electric erosion is crucial as electric vehicles evolve. To better understand how lubrication interacts with electric discharge within motor bearings during varying speeds of vehicle operation, an optical ball-on-disk tribometer was modified to investigate the influence of alternating current [...] Read more.
Protecting motor bearings from electric erosion is crucial as electric vehicles evolve. To better understand how lubrication interacts with electric discharge within motor bearings during varying speeds of vehicle operation, an optical ball-on-disk tribometer was modified to investigate the influence of alternating current (AC) electric fields on film thickness, friction force under various lubrication regions, and discharge characteristics. The study revealed that in AC electric fields, as the lubrication state shifts from mixed lubrication to fluid lubrication region, the electrical characteristic of the lubricating oil film changes from resistive to capacitive, accompanied by an increase in discharge frequency. Under the elastohydrodynamic lubrication (EHL) region, an electrical potential difference between the surfaces separated by the lubrication film leads to a reduction in film thickness, which can be attributed to the generation of Joule heating. If the potential difference across the oil film increases to the threshold voltage, destructive discharge occurs with the emission of a significant amount of purple light. Joule heating generated by the AC electric fields also results in a reduction in the friction coefficient under the fluid lubrication region. However, due to the reduction in film thickness, the lubrication state eventually moves to mixed lubrication, leading to a substantial increase in the friction coefficient. In addition, the study also investigated the use of grease with a nanographite conductive additive. It was found that inappropriate additive amounts can lead to discharge phenomena occurring outside the contact region. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Tribological Study in Rolling Bearing)
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14 pages, 1307 KiB  
Protocol
Improved DNA Extraction and Amplification Strategy for 16S rRNA Gene Amplicon-Based Microbiome Studies
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2024, 25(5), 2966; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms25052966 (registering DOI) - 04 Mar 2024
Abstract
Next-generation sequencing technology has driven the rapid advancement of human microbiome studies by enabling community-level sequence profiling of microbiomes. Although all microbiome sequencing methods depend on recovering the DNA from a sample as a first critical step, lysis methods can be a major [...] Read more.
Next-generation sequencing technology has driven the rapid advancement of human microbiome studies by enabling community-level sequence profiling of microbiomes. Although all microbiome sequencing methods depend on recovering the DNA from a sample as a first critical step, lysis methods can be a major determinant of microbiome profile bias. Gentle enzyme-based DNA preparation methods preserve DNA quality but can bias the results by failing to open difficult-to-lyse bacteria. Mechanical methods like bead beating can also bias DNA recovery because the mechanical energy required to break tougher cell walls may shear the DNA of the more easily lysed microbes, and shearing can vary depending on the time and intensity of beating, influencing reproducibility. We introduce a non-mechanical, non-enzymatic, novel rapid microbial DNA extraction procedure suitable for 16S rRNA gene-based microbiome profiling applications that eliminates bead beating. The simultaneous application of alkaline, heat, and detergent (‘Rapid’ protocol) to milligram quantity samples provided consistent representation across the population of difficult and easily lysed bacteria equal to or better than existing protocols, producing sufficient high-quality DNA for full-length 16S rRNA gene PCR. The novel ‘Rapid’ method was evaluated using mock bacterial communities containing both difficult and easily lysed bacteria. Human fecal sample testing compared the novel Rapid method with a standard Human Microbiome Project (HMP) protocol for samples from lung cancer patients and controls. DNA recovered from both methods was analyzed using 16S rRNA gene sequencing of the V1V3 and V4 regions on the Illumina platform and the V1V9 region on the PacBio platform. Our findings indicate that the ‘Rapid’ protocol consistently yielded higher levels of Firmicutes species, which reflected the profile of the bacterial community structure more accurately, which was confirmed by mock community evaluation. The novel ‘Rapid’ DNA lysis protocol reduces population bias common to bead beating and enzymatic lysis methods, presenting opportunities for improved microbial community profiling, combined with the reduction in sample input to 10 milligrams or less, and it enables rapid transfer and simultaneous lysis of 96 samples in a standard plate format. This results in a 20-fold reduction in sample handling time and an overall 2-fold time advantage when compared to widely used commercial methods. We conclude that the novel ‘Rapid’ DNA extraction protocol offers a reliable alternative for preparing fecal specimens for 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Molecular Genetics and Genomics)
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16 pages, 6461 KiB  
Article
Changes in Social Media Big Data on Healing Forests: A Time-Series Analysis on the Use Behavior of Healing Forests before and after the COVID-19 Pandemic in South Korea
Forests 2024, 15(3), 477; https://doi.org/10.3390/f15030477 (registering DOI) - 04 Mar 2024
Abstract
This study aimed to identify changes in visitor behavior and visitor interest in healing forests before and after the COVID-19 pandemic. The study used text mining analysis techniques to identify changes in visitation behavior over time, divided into three periods, as follows: pre-COVID-19 [...] Read more.
This study aimed to identify changes in visitor behavior and visitor interest in healing forests before and after the COVID-19 pandemic. The study used text mining analysis techniques to identify changes in visitation behavior over time, divided into three periods, as follows: pre-COVID-19 (1 January to 31 December 2019), during the COVID-19 pandemic (1 November 2020 to 31 October 2022), and post-COVID-19 (1 November 2022 to 31 October 2023). After the COVID-19 outbreak, healing forest use behavior did not revert to pre-COVID-19 patterns. Moreover, the keywords “tourism” and “hiking” stood out as the main drivers of this change in behavior. Therefore, the Korea Forest Service and related authorities must examine the scalability of the functions, services, and programs of healing forests from a general healing space to a space for leisure and tourism. These findings will contribute to the development of future marketing strategies and programs for healing forests. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Forest Economics, Policy, and Social Science)
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20 pages, 12815 KiB  
Article
GRAF1 Acts as a Downstream Mediator of Parkin to Regulate Mitophagy in Cardiomyocytes
Cells 2024, 13(5), 448; https://doi.org/10.3390/cells13050448 (registering DOI) - 04 Mar 2024
Abstract
Cardiomyocytes rely on proper mitochondrial homeostasis to maintain contractility and achieve optimal cardiac performance. Mitochondrial homeostasis is controlled by mitochondrial fission, fusion, and mitochondrial autophagy (mitophagy). Mitophagy plays a particularly important role in promoting the degradation of dysfunctional mitochondria in terminally differentiated cells. [...] Read more.
Cardiomyocytes rely on proper mitochondrial homeostasis to maintain contractility and achieve optimal cardiac performance. Mitochondrial homeostasis is controlled by mitochondrial fission, fusion, and mitochondrial autophagy (mitophagy). Mitophagy plays a particularly important role in promoting the degradation of dysfunctional mitochondria in terminally differentiated cells. However, the precise mechanisms by which this is achieved in cardiomyocytes remain opaque. Our study identifies GRAF1 as an important mediator in PINK1-Parkin pathway-dependent mitophagy. Depletion of GRAF1 (Arhgap26) in cardiomyocytes results in actin remodeling defects, suboptimal mitochondria clustering, and clearance. Mechanistically, GRAF1 promotes Parkin-LC3 complex formation and directs autophagosomes to damaged mitochondria. Herein, we found that these functions are regulated, at least in part, by the direct binding of GRAF1 to phosphoinositides (PI(3)P, PI(4)P, and PI(5)P) on autophagosomes. In addition, PINK1-dependent phosphorylation of Parkin promotes Parkin-GRAF1-LC3 complex formation, and PINK1-dependent phosphorylation of GRAF1 (on S668 and S671) facilitates the clustering and clearance of mitochondria. Herein, we developed new phosphor-specific antibodies to these sites and showed that these post-translational modifications are differentially modified in human hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and dilated cardiomyopathy. Furthermore, our metabolic studies using serum collected from isoproterenol-treated WT and GRAF1CKO mice revealed defects in mitophagy-dependent cardiomyocyte fuel flexibility that have widespread impacts on systemic metabolism. In summary, our study reveals that GRAF1 co-regulates actin and membrane dynamics to promote cardiomyocyte mitophagy and that dysregulation of GRAF1 post-translational modifications may underlie cardiac disease pathogenesis. Full article
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16 pages, 998 KiB  
Review
Proximity-Induced Pharmacology for Amyloid-Related Diseases
Cells 2024, 13(5), 449; https://doi.org/10.3390/cells13050449 (registering DOI) - 04 Mar 2024
Abstract
Proximity-induced pharmacology (PIP) for amyloid-related diseases is a cutting-edge approach to treating conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. By bringing small molecules close to amyloid-related proteins, these molecules can induce a plethora of effects that can break down pathogenic [...] Read more.
Proximity-induced pharmacology (PIP) for amyloid-related diseases is a cutting-edge approach to treating conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. By bringing small molecules close to amyloid-related proteins, these molecules can induce a plethora of effects that can break down pathogenic proteins and reduce the buildup of plaques. One of the most promising aspects of this drug discovery modality is that it can be used to target specific types of amyloid proteins, such as the beta-amyloid protein that is commonly associated with Alzheimer’s disease. This level of specificity could allow for more targeted and effective treatments. With ongoing research and development, it is hoped that these treatments can be refined and optimized to provide even greater benefits to patients. As our understanding of the underlying mechanisms of these diseases continues to grow, proximity-induced pharmacology treatments may become an increasingly important tool in the fight against dementia and other related conditions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Molecular Insights into Neurodegenerative Diseases)
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12 pages, 1236 KiB  
Article
DSCU-Net: MEMS Defect Detection Using Dense Skip-Connection U-Net
Symmetry 2024, 16(3), 300; https://doi.org/10.3390/sym16030300 (registering DOI) - 04 Mar 2024
Abstract
With the rapid development of intelligent manufacturing and electronic information technology, integrated circuits play a vital role in high-end chips. The semiconductor chip manufacturing process requires precise operation and strict control to ensure chip quality. The traditional manual visual inspection method has a [...] Read more.
With the rapid development of intelligent manufacturing and electronic information technology, integrated circuits play a vital role in high-end chips. The semiconductor chip manufacturing process requires precise operation and strict control to ensure chip quality. The traditional manual visual inspection method has a high workforce cost and intense subjectivity and is accompanied by a high level of misdetection and leakage. Computer vision-based wafer defect detection technology is gaining popularity in the industry. However, previous methods still find it challenging to meet the production requirements regarding accuracy. To solve the problem, we propose a defect detection network based on a coding and decoding structure, Dense Skip-Connection U-Net (DSCU-Net), which optimizes the skip connection between the encoder and decoder and enhances the profound fusion of high-level semantics and low-level semantics to improve accuracy. To verify the effectiveness of DSCU-Net, we validate it in actual microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) data, and the results show that DSCU-Net reaches an optimal level. Therefore, the DSCU-Net proposed in this paper effectively solves the defect detection problem in semiconductor chip manufacturing. This method reduces workforce cost and subjectivity interference and improves inspection efficiency and accuracy. It will help to promote further development in the field of intelligent manufacturing and electronic information technology. Full article
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12 pages, 3215 KiB  
Article
Advanced Alkaline Water Electrolysis Stack with Non-Noble Catalysts and Hybrid Electrical Connections of the Single Cells
Catalysts 2024, 14(3), 179; https://doi.org/10.3390/catal14030179 (registering DOI) - 04 Mar 2024
Abstract
In this research, a thin layer of multi-metallic non-precious catalyst is prepared by electroplating from an electrolyte bath containing Ni, Co, and Fe sulfates over pressed commercial nickel foam electrode. The composition of the deposited catalytic film and its morphology are characterized by [...] Read more.
In this research, a thin layer of multi-metallic non-precious catalyst is prepared by electroplating from an electrolyte bath containing Ni, Co, and Fe sulfates over pressed commercial nickel foam electrode. The composition of the deposited catalytic film and its morphology are characterized by scanning electron microscopy (SEM) with energy dispersion X-ray (EDX) techniques. The efficiency of the prepared binder-free electrodes for electrochemical water splitting is investigated in a self-designed short water electrolysis stack with zero-gap configuration of the integrated single cells and hybrid electrical connections. The separator used is a commercial Zirfon Perl 500 membrane, doped with 25% KOH. The performance of the catalyst, the single cells, and the developed electrolyzer stack are examined by steady state polarization curves and stationery galvanostatic stability tests in the temperature range 20 °C to 80 °C. The NiFeCoP multi-metallic alloy demonstrates superior catalytic efficiency compared to the pure nickel foam electrodes and reliable stability with time. The single cells in the stack show identical performance and the cumulative stack parameters strictly follow the theoretical considerations. The applied hybrid electrical connections enable scaling of both the stack voltage and the passing current, which in turn ensures flexibility with regard to the input power and the hydrogen production capacity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Electrocatalysis)
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12 pages, 7284 KiB  
Article
Simultaneous SERS Detection of Multiple Amino Acids Using ZIF-8@AuNPs as Substrate: Classified with 1D Convolutional Neural Network
Appl. Sci. 2024, 14(5), 2118; https://doi.org/10.3390/app14052118 (registering DOI) - 04 Mar 2024
Abstract
Amino acids found in minor coarse cereals are essential for human growth and development and play a crucial role in efficient and rapid quantitative detection. Surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) enables nondestructive, efficient, and rapid sample detection. Traditional SERS detection efficiency is constrained by [...] Read more.
Amino acids found in minor coarse cereals are essential for human growth and development and play a crucial role in efficient and rapid quantitative detection. Surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) enables nondestructive, efficient, and rapid sample detection. Traditional SERS detection efficiency is constrained by the use of a single target. In this study, three different amino acids (cysteine, valine, and tryptophan) were detected simultaneously using a ZIF-8@AuNPs composite substrate. The linear range of detection was 10−3 to 10−1 M, with limits of detection (LODs) of 2.40 × 10−4 M, 2.24 × 10−4 M, and 1.55 × 10−4 M, respectively. Same linear ranges and LODs were achieved with a one-dimensional convolutional neural network method. Furthermore, this substrate enabled the effective detection of amino acids in millet and efficient detection of cysteine in health products. This study presents a novel method for simultaneous detection of multiple analytes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Research in the Food Safety and Quality Management Techniques)
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13 pages, 3699 KiB  
Systematic Review
Can Multifrequency Tympanometry Be Used in the Diagnosis of Meniere’s Disease? A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
J. Clin. Med. 2024, 13(5), 1476; https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm13051476 (registering DOI) - 04 Mar 2024
Abstract
(1) Background: Ménière’s disease (MD) is a disease of the inner ear, presenting with episodes of vertigo, hearing loss, and tinnitus.The aim of this study is to examine the role of multifrequency tympanometry (MFT) in the diagnosis of MD. (2) Methods: A [...] Read more.
(1) Background: Ménière’s disease (MD) is a disease of the inner ear, presenting with episodes of vertigo, hearing loss, and tinnitus.The aim of this study is to examine the role of multifrequency tympanometry (MFT) in the diagnosis of MD. (2) Methods: A systematic review of MEDLINE (via PubMed), Scopus, Google Scholar, and the Cochrane Library was performed, aligned with the PRISMA guidelines. Only studies that directly compare ears affected by Ménière’s disease with unaffected or control ears were included. Random-effects model meta-analyses were performed. (3) Results: Seven prospective case-control studies reported a total of 899 ears, 282 of which were affected by Ménière’s disease (affected ears—AE), 197 unaffected ears in patients with MD (UE), and 420 control ears (CE) in healthy controls. No statistically significant differences between the groups were observed regarding resonant frequency (RF). The pure tone audiometry average of the lower frequencies (PTA basic) was significantly greater in affected ears when compared with unaffected ears. The conductance tympanogram at 2 kHz revealed a statistically significantly greater G width of 2 kHz in the affected ears when compared to both unaffected and control ears, while control ears had a statistically significant lesser G width of 2 kHz compared to both the other two groups. (4) Conclusions: MFT, and specifically G width at 2 kHz, could be an important tool in the diagnosis of MD. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Otolaryngology)
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14 pages, 7477 KiB  
Article
Sporopollenin Capsules as Biomimetic Templates for the Synthesis of Hydroxyapatite and β-TCP
Biomimetics 2024, 9(3), 159; https://doi.org/10.3390/biomimetics9030159 (registering DOI) - 04 Mar 2024
Abstract
Pollen grains, with their resilient sporopollenin exine and defined morphologies, have been explored as bio-templates for the synthesis of calcium phosphate minerals, particularly hydroxyapatite (HAp) and β-tricalcium phosphate (TCP). Various pollen morphologies from different plant species (black alder, dandelion, lamb’s quarters, ragweed, and [...] Read more.
Pollen grains, with their resilient sporopollenin exine and defined morphologies, have been explored as bio-templates for the synthesis of calcium phosphate minerals, particularly hydroxyapatite (HAp) and β-tricalcium phosphate (TCP). Various pollen morphologies from different plant species (black alder, dandelion, lamb’s quarters, ragweed, and stargazer lily) were evaluated. Pollen grains underwent acid washing to remove allergenic material and facilitate subsequent calcification. Ragweed and lamb’s quarter pollen grains were chosen as templates for calcium phosphate salts deposition due to their distinct morphologies. The calcification process yielded well-defined spherical hollow particles. The washing step, intended to reduce the protein content, did not significantly affect the final product; thus, justifying the removal of this low-yield step from the synthesis process. Characterisation techniques, including X-ray diffraction, scanning electron microscopy, Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy, and thermal gravimetric analysis, confirmed the successful calcification of pollen-derived materials, revealing that calcified grains were principally composed of calcium deficient HAp. After calcination, biphasic calcium phosphate composed of HAp and TPC was obtained. This study demonstrated the feasibility of using pollen grains as green and sustainable bio-templates for synthesizing biomaterials with controlled morphology, showcasing their potential in biomedical applications such as drug delivery and bone regeneration. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Biomimetics of Materials and Structures)
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14 pages, 5749 KiB  
Article
Investigating Cathode Electrolyte Interphase Formation in NMC 811 Primary Particles through Advanced 4D-STEM ACOM Analysis
Symmetry 2024, 16(3), 301; https://doi.org/10.3390/sym16030301 (registering DOI) - 04 Mar 2024
Abstract
This study focuses on NMC 811 (LiNi0.8Mn0.1Co0.1O2), a promising material for high-capacity batteries, and investigates the challenges associated with its use, specifically the formation of the cathode electrolyte interphase (CEI) layer due to chemical reactions. [...] Read more.
This study focuses on NMC 811 (LiNi0.8Mn0.1Co0.1O2), a promising material for high-capacity batteries, and investigates the challenges associated with its use, specifically the formation of the cathode electrolyte interphase (CEI) layer due to chemical reactions. This layer is a consequence of the position of the Lowest Unoccupied Molecular Orbital (LUMO) energy level of NMC 811 that is close to the Highest Occupied Molecular Orbital (HOMO) level of liquid electrolytes, resulting in electrolyte oxidation and cathode surface alterations during charging. A stable CEI layer can mitigate further degradation by reducing the interaction between the reactive cathode material and the electrolyte. Our research analyzed the CEI layer on NMC 811 using advanced techniques, such as 4D-STEM ACOM (automated crystal orientation mapping) and STEM-EDX, focusing on the effects of different charging voltages (4.3 V and 4.5 V). The findings revealed varying degrees of degradation and the formation of a fluorine-rich layer on the secondary particles. Detailed analysis showed that the composition of this layer differed based on the voltage: only LiF at 4.5 V and a combination of lithium fluoride (LiF) and lithium hydroxide (LiOH) at 4.3 V. Despite LiF’s known stability as a CEI protective layer, our observations indicate that it does not effectively prevent degradation in NMC 811. The study concluded that impurities and unwanted chemical reactions leading to suboptimal CEI formation are inevitable. Therefore, future efforts should focus on developing protective strategies for NMC 811, such as the use of specific additives or coatings. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Electron Diffraction and Structural Imaging II)
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20 pages, 29606 KiB  
Article
Mechanism of Strength Formation of Unfired Bricks Composed of Aeolian Sand–Loess Composite
Materials 2024, 17(5), 1184; https://doi.org/10.3390/ma17051184 (registering DOI) - 04 Mar 2024
Abstract
Aeolian sand and loess are both natural materials with poor engineering-related properties, and no research has been devoted to exploring aeolian sand–loess composite materials. In this study, we used aeolian sand and loess as the main raw materials to prepare unfired bricks by [...] Read more.
Aeolian sand and loess are both natural materials with poor engineering-related properties, and no research has been devoted to exploring aeolian sand–loess composite materials. In this study, we used aeolian sand and loess as the main raw materials to prepare unfired bricks by using the pressing method, along with cement, fly ash, and polypropylene fiber. The effects of different preparation conditions on the physical properties of the unfired bricks were investigated based on compressive strength, water absorption, and softening tests and a freeze–thaw cycle test combined with X-ray diffraction and scanning electron microscope analysis to determine the optimal mixing ratio for unfired bricks, and finally, the effects of fibers on the durability of the unfired bricks were investigated. The results reveal that the optimal mixing ratio of the masses of aeolian sand–loess –cement –fly ash–polypropylene fiber–alkali activator–water was 56.10:28.05:9.17:2.40:0.4:0.003:4.24 under a forming pressure of 20 MPa. The composite unfired bricks prepared had a compressive strength of 14.5 MPa at 14 d, with a rate of water absorption of 8.8%, coefficient of softening of 0.92, and rates of the losses of frozen strength and mass of 15.93% and 1.06%, respectively, where these satisfied the requirements of environmentally protective bricks with strength grades of MU10–MU15. During the curing process, silicate and sodium silicate gels tightly connected the particles of aeolian sand and the loess skeleton, and the spatial network formed by the addition of the fibers inhibited the deformation of soil and improved the strength of the unfired bricks. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Construction and Building Materials)
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19 pages, 9951 KiB  
Article
Modeling Pharmacokinetics in Individual Patients Using Therapeutic Drug Monitoring and Artificial Population Quasi-Models: A Study with Piperacillin
Pharmaceutics 2024, 16(3), 358; https://doi.org/10.3390/pharmaceutics16030358 (registering DOI) - 04 Mar 2024
Abstract
Population pharmacokinetic (pop-PK) models constructed for model-informed precision dosing often have limited utility due to the low number of patients recruited. To augment such models, an approach is presented for generating fully artificial quasi-models which can be employed to make individual estimates of [...] Read more.
Population pharmacokinetic (pop-PK) models constructed for model-informed precision dosing often have limited utility due to the low number of patients recruited. To augment such models, an approach is presented for generating fully artificial quasi-models which can be employed to make individual estimates of pharmacokinetic parameters. Based on 72 concentrations obtained in 12 patients, one- and two-compartment pop-PK models with or without creatinine clearance as a covariate were generated for piperacillin using the nonparametric adaptive grid algorithm. Thirty quasi-models were subsequently generated for each model type, and nonparametric maximum a posteriori probability Bayesian estimates were established for each patient. A significant difference in performance was found between one- and two-compartment models. Acceptable agreement was found between predicted and observed piperacillin concentrations, and between the estimates of the random-effect pharmacokinetic variables obtained using the so-called support points of the pop-PK models or the quasi-models as priors. The mean squared errors of the predictions made using the quasi-models were similar to, or even considerably lower than those obtained when employing the pop-PK models. Conclusion: fully artificial nonparametric quasi-models can efficiently augment pop-PK models containing few support points, to make individual pharmacokinetic estimates in the clinical setting. Full article
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16 pages, 403 KiB  
Article
Automatic Speech Recognition of Vietnamese for a New Large-Scale Corpus
Electronics 2024, 13(5), 977; https://doi.org/10.3390/electronics13050977 (registering DOI) - 04 Mar 2024
Abstract
Vietnamese is an under-resourced language. The requirement for a large-scale and high-quality Vietnamese speech corpus increases on demand. We introduce a new large-scale Vietnamese speech corpus with 100.5 h collected from various audio sources in the Internet. The raw collected audio was processed [...] Read more.
Vietnamese is an under-resourced language. The requirement for a large-scale and high-quality Vietnamese speech corpus increases on demand. We introduce a new large-scale Vietnamese speech corpus with 100.5 h collected from various audio sources in the Internet. The raw collected audio was processed to obtain clean speech. Transcription of the clean speech was made manually. The new corpus was analyzed in terms of gender, topic and regional dialect. Results shows that the new corpus has good diversity of genders, topics and regional dialects. We also evaluated the new corpus using state-of-the-art automatic speech recognition models like LAS and Speech-Transformer for multiple scenarios. This is the first time that these models have been applied to Vietnamese speech recognition and obtained reasonable results. Simulation results showed that the new corpus would be a good dataset for the Vietnamese ASR tasks because it reflected correctly difficulties in recognizing speech from different dialects and topic domains. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Applications of Deep Learning Techniques)
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14 pages, 950 KiB  
Systematic Review
Cardiovascular Risks of Simultaneous Use of Alcohol and Cocaine—A Systematic Review
J. Clin. Med. 2024, 13(5), 1475; https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm13051475 (registering DOI) - 04 Mar 2024
Abstract
Background: The simultaneous use of cocaine and alcohol is highly prevalent and is associated with high numbers of emergency department admissions, primarily due to cardiovascular complications. Aims: To answer the question of whether the co-use of cocaine and alcohol increases the cardiovascular [...] Read more.
Background: The simultaneous use of cocaine and alcohol is highly prevalent and is associated with high numbers of emergency department admissions, primarily due to cardiovascular complications. Aims: To answer the question of whether the co-use of cocaine and alcohol increases the cardiovascular risk compared to the use of cocaine alone. Method: A systematic review of human studies comparing the cardiovascular risk of co-used cocaine and alcohol with the use of cocaine alone. Results: Despite a higher myocardial workload induced by the co-use of cocaine and alcohol and the potentiation of cocaine’s cardiovascular effects by alcohol, the findings on the risk and severity of cardiovascular symptoms due to combined use are inconsistent. However, the co-use of cocaine and alcohol clearly leads to higher mortality. Interestingly, the presence of cocaethylene, a unique metabolite generated only via a pharmacokinetic interaction between alcohol and cocaine, carries an 18- to 25-fold increase over the absence of cocaethylene (cocaine-alone users) in the risk of sudden death and is associated with myocardial injury and cardiac arrest, probably due to the inhibition of cardiac ion channels by cocaethylene. Conclusion: Despite the inconsistency in some of the results, it is concluded that the co-use of cocaine and alcohol poses an additional risk of cardiovascular fatalities compared to the use of cocaine alone. Full article
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38 pages, 10153 KiB  
Article
A Closed Queueing Networks Approach for an Optimal Heterogeneous Fleet Size of an Inter-Facility Bulk Material Transfer System
Logistics 2024, 8(1), 26; https://doi.org/10.3390/logistics8010026 (registering DOI) - 04 Mar 2024
Abstract
Background: This study addresses optimising fleet size in a system with a heterogeneous truck fleet, aiming to minimise transportation costs in interfacility material transfer operations. Methods: The material transfer process is modelled using a closed queueing network (CQN) that considers heterogeneous nodes and [...] Read more.
Background: This study addresses optimising fleet size in a system with a heterogeneous truck fleet, aiming to minimise transportation costs in interfacility material transfer operations. Methods: The material transfer process is modelled using a closed queueing network (CQN) that considers heterogeneous nodes and customised service times tailored to the unique characteristics of various truck types and their transported materials. The optimisation problem is formulated as a mixed-integer nonlinear programming (MINLP), falling into the NP-Hard, making exact solution computation challenging. A numerical approximation method, a modified sequential quadratic programming (SQP) method coupled with a mean value analysis (MVA) algorithm, is employed to overcome this challenge. Validation is conducted using a discrete event simulation (DES) model. Results: The proposed analytical model tested within a steel manufacturing plant’s material transfer process. The results showed that the analytical model achieved comparable optimisation of the heterogeneous truck fleet size with significantly reduced response times compared to the simulation method. Furthermore, evaluating performance metrics, encompassing response time, utilisation rate, and cycle time, revealed minimal discrepancies between the analytical and the simulation results, approximately ±8%, ±8%, and ±7%, respectively. Conclusions: These findings affirm the presented analytical approach’s robustness in optimising interfacility material transfer operations with heterogeneous truck fleets, demonstrating real-world applications. Full article
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13 pages, 248 KiB  
Article
COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Hesitancy among the Elderly in Malaysian Residential Care Homes: A Cross-Sectional Study in Klang Valley
Vaccines 2024, 12(3), 268; https://doi.org/10.3390/vaccines12030268 (registering DOI) - 04 Mar 2024
Abstract
The elderly are considered a high-risk group for severe outcomes and death from COVID-19 infection. Given the emergence of new COVID variants and the immunity provided by vaccines waning over time, booster doses of the vaccine have been advocated for those at risk [...] Read more.
The elderly are considered a high-risk group for severe outcomes and death from COVID-19 infection. Given the emergence of new COVID variants and the immunity provided by vaccines waning over time, booster doses of the vaccine have been advocated for those at risk to stay protected. This study aimed to determine the factors associated with hesitancy toward the second booster of the COVID-19 vaccine among the elderly residing in residential care homes. A cross-sectional study was conducted in 24 residential care homes in the Klang Valley using a face-to-face interview questionnaire. The study population included individuals aged 60 and above who had been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 up to the first booster dose. Second-booster hesitancy was assessed using the Oxford Vaccine Hesitancy Scale with seven items, the aggregate score of which ranges from seven to thirty-five; the higher the score, the greater the level of hesitancy. Multivariate linear regression was employed to determine factors associated with second-booster hesitancy, and a p-value < 0.05 was considered statistically significant. Data from 401 elderly individuals were included for analysis. The mean score of the Oxford Vaccine Hesitancy Scale was 21.6 ± 7.2. Predictors of second booster hesitancy were identified. Age, Indian ethnicity, being a recipient of the Sinovac vaccine as the first COVID-19 booster, experiencing the death of close friends or immediate family members following COVID-19 vaccination, and negative messages (indicating that taking a booster dose is harmful) from caregivers, friends, or family members were found to be associated with an increased second-booster-hesitancy score. Conversely, positive messages (indicating that taking a booster is helpful) from the government and caregivers, friends, or family members were identified as predictors associated with a reduction in the second-booster-hesitancy score. While vaccines effectively combat severe COVID-19, the majority of the elderly hesitate before taking the second booster. Their hesitancy, rooted in the perception of a low self risk and reliance on protection from the initial doses, emphasizes the need for intervention by relevant bodies. Taking into consideration the risk, albeit relatively low, of potentially serious side effects following COVID-19 vaccinations, it is imperative that transparent, appropriate, and positive messaging regarding booster vaccines, particularly in the context of the elderly from residential care homes, be available. Encouraging this high-risk group to embrace the second booster aligns with the goal of maximizing protection within the vulnerable elderly population. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Acceptance and Hesitancy in Vaccine Uptake)
13 pages, 1628 KiB  
Article
Kinetic Study of Fig Syrup Fermentation by Genetically Modified Saccharomyces cerevisiae Yeast Strains: A Physicochemical Approach to the Yeast Strain Life Cycle
Appl. Sci. 2024, 14(5), 2117; https://doi.org/10.3390/app14052117 (registering DOI) - 04 Mar 2024
Abstract
Reversed-flow gas chromatography (R.F.G.C.) was employed to assess the impact of genetic modification on Saccharomyces cerevisiae yeast strains during the process of alcoholic fermentation, utilizing fig syrup. Multiple fermentations were carried out at various temperatures to evaluate the influence of genetic modifications on [...] Read more.
Reversed-flow gas chromatography (R.F.G.C.) was employed to assess the impact of genetic modification on Saccharomyces cerevisiae yeast strains during the process of alcoholic fermentation, utilizing fig syrup. Multiple fermentations were carried out at various temperatures to evaluate the influence of genetic modifications on yeast strain efficiency. The study involved a wild-type yeast strain, W303, as a control and two genetically modified strains, W_M4_533 and W_M4_558, sharing the same genetic background as the wild type. Notably, the genetic modifications in the Msn4p transcription factor involved the substitution of serine residues with alanine at positions 533 and 558, resulting in the development of psychrophilic or ethanol-resistant strains. Utilizing the R.F.G.C. method enabled the differentiation of the duration of alcoholic fermentation phases, providing insights correlated to the yeast cell life cycle. The values of rate constants (k) for each phase, conducted with both wild-type and genetically modified cells using RFGC, aligned with the existing literature. Additionally, the calculation of activation energies for distinct phases revealed lower values for genetically modified strains compared to wild-type strains. This decrease in activation energies suggests enhanced efficiency in the alcoholic fermentation process for the genetically modified strains. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Chemical and Physical Properties in Food Processing)
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16 pages, 1209 KiB  
Review
Resilience in the Context of Cyber Security: A Review of the Fundamental Concepts and Relevance
Appl. Sci. 2024, 14(5), 2116; https://doi.org/10.3390/app14052116 (registering DOI) - 04 Mar 2024
Abstract
Cyber resilience is a topic of extreme relevance to organizations in the most diverse segments of activity, where the concept of resilience presents nuance in its different dimensions, in addition to the need to recognize and distinguish the different stages that characterize the [...] Read more.
Cyber resilience is a topic of extreme relevance to organizations in the most diverse segments of activity, where the concept of resilience presents nuance in its different dimensions, in addition to the need to recognize and distinguish the different stages that characterize the state of cyber resilience. Thus, the aim of this article is to understand the various concepts of cyber resilience in its different contexts and dimensions. To this end, bibliographic research was carried out through the process of indirect documentation in articles, books, and publications on the subject. The main stages of resilience were mapped, and an analysis was produced of how these stages have evolved over the years. Finally, an updated proposal for standing for the stages of cyber resilience was presented, based on the consolidation of proposals from the entire framework studied in this work. This review emphasizes the importance of cyber resilience and understanding the stages that characterize cyber resilience, highlighting the need for its further integration into the organizations in the most diverse segments of activity management. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Progress and Research in Cybersecurity and Data Privacy)
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20 pages, 635 KiB  
Article
Quality of Life in Alcohol Use Disorder: Exploration of Predictive Factors in a Cross-Sectional Study
Psychiatry Int. 2024, 5(1), 101-120; https://doi.org/10.3390/psychiatryint5010008 (registering DOI) - 04 Mar 2024
Abstract
Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a chronic and relapsing biopsychosocial condition that leads to various medical, psychological, social, economic, and personal issues. This study evaluated how sociodemographic characteristics, clinical variables, impulsivity dimensions, and cognitive functions were associated with quality of life (QoL) among [...] Read more.
Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a chronic and relapsing biopsychosocial condition that leads to various medical, psychological, social, economic, and personal issues. This study evaluated how sociodemographic characteristics, clinical variables, impulsivity dimensions, and cognitive functions were associated with quality of life (QoL) among patients seeking treatment for AUD. Furthermore, the study investigated the predictors of QoL among patients seeking treatment for AUD based on attention, cognitive instability, motor impulsiveness, perseverance, and self-control dimensions of trait impulsivity. This study also investigated the potential mediating effect of anxiety and alcohol use severity in this relationship. After an initial assessment, the participants underwent comprehensive evaluations, including sociodemographic data, clinical history, and QoL domains. The evaluations also covered AUD severity, impulsivity dimensions, cognitive functions, craving intensity, depression, anxiety, and self-efficacy. Multiple linear regression analyses were employed to identify associations between independent variables and QoL. The attention dimension of impulsivity and anxiety symptoms significantly predicted physical health domain of QoL. The self-control dimension and severity of alcohol use disorder predicted psychological domain of QoL. The indirect effect of attention dimension on physical health was significant [effect = −1.082, 95% CI (−2.008, −0.3598)]. The significance of impulsivity in influencing QoL for individuals with AUD has profound clinical implications. These findings underscore the importance of addressing anxiety and impulsivity in managing AUD, given their considerable impact, particularly on QoL, ultimately shaping treatment outcomes. Full article
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24 pages, 2753 KiB  
Article
Comparison of Halmágyi–Curthoys Head Impulse (Thrust) Test with Romberg’s Test in Detection of Vestibular Hypofunctioning in Vertigo Patients
J. Otorhinolaryngol. Hear. Balance Med. 2024, 5(1), 4; https://doi.org/10.3390/ohbm5010004 (registering DOI) - 04 Mar 2024
Abstract
This study aimed to compare the diagnostic efficacy of the Halmágyi–Curthoys head impulse (thrust) test and Romberg’s test in detecting vestibular hypofunctioning among two groups of 50 vertigo patients each; the two groups were randomly assigned. The assessment utilized the visual analog scale [...] Read more.
This study aimed to compare the diagnostic efficacy of the Halmágyi–Curthoys head impulse (thrust) test and Romberg’s test in detecting vestibular hypofunctioning among two groups of 50 vertigo patients each; the two groups were randomly assigned. The assessment utilized the visual analog scale (VAS) to quantify subjective experiences of vertigo. The results revealed distinctive patterns in the detection of vestibular hypofunctioning, highlighting the strengths and limitations of each test. The Halmágyi–Curthoys head impulse test demonstrated utility in identifying vestibular hypofunctioning and its effect on vestibulo–ocular reflexes, particularly in cases with sudden head movements. Romberg’s test was useful in assessing postural instability in vestibular hypofunctioning due to defects in vestibulospinal reflexes. The integration of VAS scores provided valuable subjective insights into the patient experience. This comparative analysis contributes to a nuanced understanding of diagnostic tools for vestibular hypofunctioning in vertigo patients, offering clinicians valuable information for tailored assessments and interventions. Full article
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