Distinguished EPJ Referees

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EPJ D Highlight - Breaking up amino acids with radiation

Mass spectra of the fragments obtained from glutamine molecules at different radiation doses.

A new study describes how the amino acid, glutamine, is broken up when bombarded with different doses of electrons. This has implications for cancer radiotherapy and understanding the origin of life.

Small organic molecules, including the amino acids that form the ‘building blocks’ of proteins in living cells, fragment to form ions under the impact of high-energy radiation such as electron beams. A new study published in EPJ D has now shown what happens when electrons collide with one amino acid, glutamine. The extent of the damage and the nature of the ions formed are both affected by the energy of the colliding electrons. This work arises from a collaboration between experimental physicists led by Alexander Snegursky at the Institute of Electron Physics, Uzhgorod, Ukraine and theoreticians led by Jelena Tamuliene at Vilnius University, Vilnius, Lithuania.

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EPJ B Highlight - Ultracold gases in time-dependent magnetic fields

Evolution of the energy spectrum of an ultracold gas under a time-dependent magnetic field. Top left-hand figure (6a), where there is no time dependence, shows the symmetrical ‘Hofstadter’s butterfly’ effect.

The phase transitions of an ultracold gas under a fluctuating magnetic field show interesting patterns, particularly a loss of symmetry in the energy spectrum that is well observed in the disappearance of the ‘Hofstadter’s butterfly’ effect.

It is now technically possible to hold groups of atoms at temperatures that are only a few hundredths of a degree above absolute zero. This so-called ‘ultracold gas’ loaded in an optical lattice is an extremely powerful platform to study quantum mechanical phenomena including phase transitions, due to the excellent control of experimental parameters, such as potential depths, inter-particle interaction strengths and lattice parameters. Sk Noor Nabi from Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China and colleagues in the Indian Institute of Technology, Guwahati, India, have studied the phase transition between the Mott insulating (MI) and superfluid (SF) states of such a gas in a time-dependent synthetic magnetic field. Their results, published in EPJ B, show that the energy spectrum of the gas loses symmetry in the fluctuating magnetic field. This is observed in the disappearance of the striking ‘Hofstadter’s butterfly’ effect seen in the energy spectrum under a constant magnetic field.

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Gottfried Strasser joins the EPJ Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC)

Gottfried Strasser

The Scientific Advisory Committee of EPJ is delighted to welcome Professor Gottfried Strasser as the new representative for the Austrian Physical Society.

Gottfried Strasser is professor at the Technische Universität Wien (TU Vienna), heading the Institute of Solid State Electronics and the Center for Micro- and Nanostructures at the TU Wien.

He is an internationally renowned expert in semiconductor physics and devices and president of the Austrian Physical Society.

His expertise will be highly appreciated for the review of and advice on the publishing strategy of EPJ. His membership of the committee will support the visibility of EPJ in his community.

EPJ B Topical Review - Electronic structure and optical properties of semiconductor nanowires polytypes

Advances in the fabrication and characterization of nanowires polytypes have made crystal phase engineering a well-established tool to tailor material properties. In a new review article published in EPJB, Luiz Galvão Tizei and Michele Amato (Université Paris-Saclay, CNRS, LPS, France) describe recent progress in the field, with special focus on the central role that crystal phase has in modulating the electronic and optical properties of nanowires.

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EPJ ST Highlight - Exploring strangeness and the primordial Universe

Having studied quark-gluon plasma since the late 1970s, Dr Johann Rafelski summarises the evolution in our understanding of the exotic quark signature of this primordial material which once filled the whole Universe.

Physicists believe that in the Universe’s first ten microseconds free quarks and gluons filled all of spacetime, forming a new phase of matter named ‘quark-gluon plasma’ (QGP). Experimental and theoretical work at CERN was instrumental in the discovery of this hot soup of primordial matter, which is recreated today in accelerator-based lab experiments. To discover QGP in such experiments, the observation of exotic ‘strange’ quarks is very important. If QGP is created, strangeness is readily produced through collisions between gluons. In analysis published in EPJ Special Topics, Dr Johann Rafelski from The University of Arizona, United States, also working at CERN, presents how our understanding of this characteristic strangeness production signature has evolved over the span of his long career.

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Erik Akkermans joins the EPJ Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC)

Eric Akkermans

The SAC is very pleased to welcome Eric Akkermans as a new representative of the Israel Physical Society. Eric Akkermans is a professor at the physics department at Technion. He is working on condensed matter physics and more particularly on subjects that sit at the crossroad between quantum physics, equilibrium and out of equilibrium physics, quantum field theory, cold atomic gases and mesoscopic physics. The theoretical activity of the research group of E. Akkermans is systematically related to experimental works either triggering new experiments or trying to explain existing results.

EPJ Plus Focus Point: Scientific Research in Conservation Science

This special issue is related to the 3rd edition of the International Conference on Innovation in Art Research and Technology (inArt 2018) held in Parma (Italy). The Focus Point includes 20 excellent examples of the research works presented at the Conference. In particular, attention is focused on: non-invasive investigation techniques; new materials for restoration in compliance with the artifacts and the environment; products for the prevention of corrosion and of degradation; self-cleaning materials. The articles are devoted to the study of many different art objects and materials, including paintings (pigments, dyes, binders), textiles, manuscripts, buildings as well as building materials, metals, glasses, gems, bones and ivory. The analyzed objects span a huge time interval, ranging from antiquity (ancient Egypt) to contemporary art. Many different techniques are involved: spectroscopy in the different ranges of the electromagnetic spectrum (from infrared to X-rays); visible and electron microscopy; multispectral imaging; three-dimensional reconstruction, using instruments as handheld spectrometers, neutron sources or particle accelerators. Data treatment is also discussed, from databases to data integration and decision tools.

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EPJ B Highlight - Spinning quantum dots

Graph showing the expectation value of the electron spin for different rotation angles in four different semiconductor materials, showing a strong pattern of beats in each case.

A theoretical analysis of electron spins in slowly moving quantum dots suggests these can be controlled by electric fields.

The name ‘quantum dots’ is given to particles of semiconducting materials that are so tiny – a few nanometres in diameter – that they no longer behave quite like ordinary, macroscopic matter. Thanks to their quantum-like optical and electronic properties, they are showing promise as components of quantum computing devices, but these properties are not yet fully understood. Physicists Sanjay Prabhakar of Gordon State College, Georgia, USA and Roderick Melnik of Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Canada have now described the theory behind some of these novel properties in detail. This work is published in EPJ B.

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EPJ N Highlight - A minimal predictive viscosity model of solvent phases

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2D viscosity model using an hexagonal grid

A novel thermodynamic model to predict macroscopic viscosity of concentrated extractant systems in the presence of heavy metals is presented. The viscosity increase of monoamides in presence of uranyl is a challenging technological lock for industrial extraction processes. This work presents experimental indications on the origin of the viscosity increase and introduces a model based on the three well-established concepts of molecular packing parameters, supramolecular curvature and elasticity of amphiphilic film, as well as polymer physics extended to “living polymers”.

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EPJB - Eduardo Hernandez and Heiko Rieger appointed Editors-in-Chief

The new year sees big changes for EPJ B, with two new Editors-in-Chief appointed from January 2020. Prof Dr Heiko Rieger (Saarland University, Germany) and Prof Eduardo Hernandez (ICMM-CSIC, Spain) take on joint EiC roles, with broad responsibility for papers in statistical physics and condensed matter physics respectively. At the same time, Prof Bikas Chakrabarti (Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics, Kolkata, India) and Prof Wenhui Duan (Tsinghua University, China) step down from their roles as Executive Editors on the journal.

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