EPJ E Highlight - Modelling microswimmers for drug delivery
- Published on 11 November 2020
Mathematical models of the motion of cells in viscous liquids that show how this motion is affected by the presence of a surfactant coating have applications in the design of artificial microswimmers for targeted drug delivery, micro-surgery and other applications.
Many types of motile cells, such as the bacteria in our guts and spermatozoa in the female reproductive tracts, need to propel themselves through confined spaces filled with viscous liquid. In recent years, the motion of these ‘microswimmers’ has been mimicked in the design of self-propelled micro- and nano-scale machines for applications including targeted drug delivery. Optimising the design of these machines requires a detailed, mathematical understanding of microswimmers in these environments. A large, international group of physicists led by Abdallah Daddi-Moussa-Ider of Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf, Germany has now generated mathematical models of microswimmers in clean and surfactant-covered viscous drops, showing that the surfactant significantly alters the swimmers’ behaviour. They have published their work in EPJ E.
EPJ E Celebrates 20th Anniversary
- Published on 24 September 2020
In 2020 The European Physical Journal E - Soft Matter and Biological Physics marks twenty years since the publication of its first papers. To commemorate this milestone, the Editors-in-Chief have made a selection of articles published over these two decades, representing the breadth of coverage of the journal. These articles are now freely accessible until 15 October via this Q&A with Prof Holger Stark, Editor-in-Chief of EPJ E.
EPJ E Highlight - Polymers can fine-tune attractions between suspended nanocubes
- Published on 19 June 2020
Interactions between hollow silica nanocubes suspended in a solution can be adjusted by varying the concentration of polymer molecules added to the mixture.
Colloids are complex mixtures in which microscopic particles of one substance are suspended evenly throughout another. They can be prepared in many different ways, but to achieve desirable properties in the final mixture, researchers must maintain a delicate control over the interactions which take place between the particles. In new research published in EPJ E, a team led by Remco Tuinier at the Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands demonstrate this level of control for a type of colloid in which the suspended particles take the form of hollow, nanoscale cubes – a case which has only previously been explored through theoretical calculations.
EPJ E Highlight - ‘Bottom-heavy squirmers’ adopt characteristic group behaviours
- Published on 26 May 2020
Simulated particles which mimic the behaviours of self-propelling microorganisms have distinct collective properties which depend on their velocities and bottom-heaviness.
From starling aberrations to self-turbulent fluids, ‘active systems’ encompass a wide family of phenomena in which individual objects propel themselves forward, allowing them to display intriguing collective behaviours. On microscopic scales, they are found in groups of living organisms which move around by squirming, and are aligned with Earth’s gravitational fields due to their bottom-heavy mass distributions. Through research published in EPJ E, Felix Rühle and Holger Stark at the Technical University of Berlin find that depending on their properties, these objects collectively spend most of their time in one of two states, between which some intriguing behaviours can emerge.
EPJ E Highlight - Modelling wrinkling and buckling in materials that form the basis of flexible electronics
- Published on 20 April 2020
As the demand for flexible electronics grows, researchers must develop robust models of how the materials that comprise them behave under stress.
Flexible circuits have become a highly desirable commodity in modern technology, with applications in biotechnology, electronics, monitors and screens, being of particular importance. A new paper authored by John F. Niven, Department of Physics & Astronomy, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, published in EPJ E, aims to understand how materials used in flexible electronics behave under stress and strain, particularly, how they wrinkle and buckle.
EPJ E Highlight - Distortion isn’t a drag on fluid-straddling particles
- Published on 16 March 2020
The drag forces experienced by particles which straddle and distort the interfaces between un-mixable fluids are less influenced by the shape of the distortion than previously thought.
Some intriguing physics can be found at the interfaces between fluids, particularly if they are straddled by particles like proteins or dust grains. When placed between un-mixable fluids such as oil and water, a variety of processes, including inter-molecular interactions, will cause the particles to move around. These motions are characterised by the drag force experienced by the particles, which is itself thought to depend on the extent to which they distort fluid interfaces. So far, however, experiments investigating the intriguing effect haven’t yet fully confirmed the influence of this distortion. In new research published in EPJ E, a team led by Jean-Christophe Loudet at the University of Bordeaux, France, showed that the drag force experienced by fluid-straddling particles is less affected by interface distortion than previously believed.
EPJE Topical review - Viscosity of nanofluids containing anisotropic particles: A critical review and a comprehensive model
- Published on 24 December 2019
When compared to nanofluids with spherical particles, nanofluids with anisotropic particles possess higher thermal conductivity and thus offer a better enhancement option in heat transfer applications. The viscosity variation of such nanofluids becomes of great importance in evaluating their pumping power in thermal systems.
EPJE appoints new Editors-in-Chief
- Published on 23 December 2019
EPJ is pleased to announce that January 2020 will see the appointment of two new Editors-in-Chief for EPJ E, Prof Fabrizio Croccolo (Université de Pau et des Pays de l'Adour, France) and Prof Dr Holger Stark (Technische Universität Berlin, Germany).
EPJ E Highlight - Mathematics reveals new insights into Marangoni flows
- Published on 24 October 2019
New theoretical analysis describing the movements of impurity-laden, temperature-varying fluids at water-air interfaces better matches previous experimental observations
The Marangoni effect is a popular physics experiment. It is produced when an interface between water and air is heated in just one spot. Since this heat will radiate outwards, a temperature gradient is produced on the surface, causing the fluid to move through the radiation process of convection. When un-dissolvable impurities are introduced to this surface, they are immediately swept to the side of the water’s container. In turn, this creates a gradient in surface tension which causes the interface to become elastic. The structures of these flows have been well understood theoretically for over a century, but still don’t completely line up with experimental observations of the effect. In a new study published in EPJ E, Thomas Bickel at the University of Bordeaux in France has discovered new mathematical laws governing the properties of Marangoni flows.
EPJ E Highlight - Advanced cancer drug shrinks and intercalates DNA
- Published on 23 October 2019
Experiments and statistical models reveal that the recently developed cancer drug Pixantrone forces itself inside the double helix structure of DNA molecules, then shrinks their backbones.
Because of the harmful side-effects of chemotherapy, and the increasing resistance to drugs found in many cancer cells, it is critical for researchers to continually search for new ways to update current cancer treatments. Recently, a drug named Pixantrone (PIX) was developed, which is far less damaging to the heart than previous, less advanced compounds. PIX is now used to treat cancers including non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and leukaemia, but a detailed knowledge of the molecular processes it uses to destroy cancer cells has been lacking so far. In a new study published in EPJ E, Marcio Rocha and colleagues at the Federal University of Viçosa in Brazil uncovered the molecular mechanisms involved in PIX’s interactions with cancer DNA in precise detail. They found that the drug first forces itself between the strands of the DNA molecule’s double helix, prising them apart; then compacts the structures by partially neutralising their phosphate backbones.