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Wang, Lei, Hortelão, Ana C., Huang, Xin, Sánchez, Samuel, (2019). Lipase-powered mesoporous silica nanomotors for triglyceride degradation Angewandte Chemie International Edition 58, (24), 7992-7996

We report lipase-based nanomotors that are capable of enhanced Brownian motion over long periods of time in triglyceride solution and of degrading triglyceride droplets that mimic “blood lipids”. We achieved about 40 min of enhanced diffusion of lipase-modified mesoporous silica nanoparticles (MSNPs) through a biocatalytic reaction between lipase and its corresponding water-soluble oil substrate (triacetin) as fuel, which resulted in an enhanced diffusion coefficient (ca. 50 % increase) at low triacetin concentration (<10 mm). Lipase not only serves as the power engine but also as a highly efficient cleaner for the triglyceride droplets (e.g., tributyrin) in PBS solution, which could yield potential biomedical applications, for example, for dealing with diseases related to the accumulation of triglycerides, or for environmental remediation, for example, for the degradation of oil spills.

Keywords: Enzyme nanomotors, Lipase, Micromotors, Oil removal, Self-propulsion


Palacín, J., Martínez, D., Clotet, E., Pallejà, T., Burgués, J., Fonollosa, J., Pardo, A., Marco, Santiago, (2019). Application of an array of metal-oxide semiconductor gas sensors in an assistant personal robot for early gas leak detection Sensors 19, (9), 1957

This paper proposes the application of a low-cost gas sensor array in an assistant personal robot (APR) in order to extend the capabilities of the mobile robot as an early gas leak detector for safety purposes. The gas sensor array is composed of 16 low-cost metal-oxide (MOX) gas sensors, which are continuously in operation. The mobile robot was modified to keep the gas sensor array always switched on, even in the case of battery recharge. The gas sensor array provides 16 individual gas measurements and one output that is a cumulative summary of all measurements, used as an overall indicator of a gas concentration change. The results of preliminary experiments were used to train a partial least squares discriminant analysis (PLS-DA) classifier with air, ethanol, and acetone as output classes. Then, the mobile robot gas leak detection capabilities were experimentally evaluated in a public facility, by forcing the evaporation of (1) ethanol, (2) acetone, and (3) ethanol and acetone at different locations. The positive results obtained in different operation conditions over the course of one month confirmed the early detection capabilities of the proposed mobile system. For example, the APR was able to detect a gas leak produced inside a closed room from the external corridor due to small leakages under the door induced by the forced ventilation system of the building.

Keywords: Metal-oxide semiconductor, Gas sensor, Gas leak detection, Assistant personal robot, Mobile robot


Sebastian, P., Giannotti, M. I., Gómez, E., Feliu, J. M., (2018). Surface sensitive nickel electrodeposition in deep eutectic solvent ACS Applied Energy Materials , 1, (3), 1016-1028

The first steps of nickel electrodeposition in a deep eutectic solvent (DES) are analyzed in detail. Several substrates from glassy carbon to Pt(111) were investigated pointing out the surface sensitivity of the nucleation and growth mechanism. For that, cyclic voltammetry and chronoamperometry, in combination with scanning electron microscopy (SEM), were employed. X-ray diffraction (XRD) and atomic force microscopy (AFM) were used to more deeply analyze the Ni deposition on Pt substrates. In a 0.1 M NiCl2 + DES solution (at 70 °C), the nickel deposition on glassy carbon takes place within the potential limits of the electrode in the blank solution. Although, the electrochemical window of Pt|DES is considerably shorter than on glassy carbon|DES, it was still sufficient for the nickel deposition. On the Pt electrode, the negative potential limit was enlarged while the nickel deposit grew, likely because of the lower catalytic activity of the nickel toward the reduction of the DES. At lower overpotentials, different hydrogenated Ni structures were favored, most likely because of the DES co-reduction on the Pt substrate. Nanometric metallic nickel grains of rounded shape were obtained on any substrate, as evidenced by the FE-SEM. Passivation phenomena, related to the formation of Ni oxide and Ni hydroxylated species, were observed at high applied overpotentials. At low deposited charge, on Pt(111) the AFM measurements showed the formation of rounded nanometric particles of Ni, which rearranged and formed small triangular arrays at sufficiently low applied overpotential. This particle pattern was induced by the (111) orientation and related to surface sensitivity of the nickel deposition in DES. The present work provides deep insights into the Ni electrodeposition mechanism in the selected deep eutectic solvent.

Keywords: AFM, Deep eutectic solvent, Glassy carbon, Nanostructures, Nickel electrodeposition, Platinum electrode, Pt(111), SEM, Surface sensitive


Burgués, J., Jiménez-Soto, J. M., Marco, S., (2018). Estimation of the limit of detection in semiconductor gas sensors through linearized calibration models Analytica Chimica Acta 1013, 13-25

The limit of detection (LOD) is a key figure of merit in chemical sensing. However, the estimation of this figure of merit is hindered by the non-linear calibration curve characteristic of semiconductor gas sensor technologies such as, metal oxide (MOX), gasFETs or thermoelectric sensors. Additionally, chemical sensors suffer from cross-sensitivities and temporal stability problems. The application of the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) recommendations for univariate LOD estimation in non-linear semiconductor gas sensors is not straightforward due to the strong statistical requirements of the IUPAC methodology (linearity, homoscedasticity, normality). Here, we propose a methodological approach to LOD estimation through linearized calibration models. As an example, the methodology is applied to the detection of low concentrations of carbon monoxide using MOX gas sensors in a scenario where the main source of error is the presence of uncontrolled levels of humidity.

Keywords: Semiconductor gas sensors, Metal-oxide sensors, Limit of detection, Non-linear, Humidity interference, Temperature modulation


Burgués, J., Marco, S., (2018). Low power operation of temperature-modulated metal oxide semiconductor gas sensors Sensors 18, (2), 339

Mobile applications based on gas sensing present new opportunities for low-cost air quality monitoring, safety, and healthcare. Metal oxide semiconductor (MOX) gas sensors represent the most prominent technology for integration into portable devices, such as smartphones and wearables. Traditionally, MOX sensors have been continuously powered to increase the stability of the sensing layer. However, continuous power is not feasible in many battery-operated applications due to power consumption limitations or the intended intermittent device operation. This work benchmarks two low-power, duty-cycling, and on-demand modes against the continuous power one. The duty-cycling mode periodically turns the sensors on and off and represents a trade-off between power consumption and stability. On-demand operation achieves the lowest power consumption by powering the sensors only while taking a measurement. Twelve thermally modulated SB-500-12 (FIS Inc. Jacksonville, FL, USA) sensors were exposed to low concentrations of carbon monoxide (0–9 ppm) with environmental conditions, such as ambient humidity (15–75% relative humidity) and temperature (21–27 ◦C), varying within the indicated ranges. Partial Least Squares (PLS) models were built using calibration data, and the prediction error in external validation samples was evaluated during the two weeks following calibration. We found that on-demand operation produced a deformation of the sensor conductance patterns, which led to an increase in the prediction error by almost a factor of 5 as compared to continuous operation (2.2 versus 0.45 ppm). Applying a 10% duty-cycling operation of 10-min periods reduced this prediction error to a factor of 2 (0.9 versus 0.45 ppm). The proposed duty-cycling powering scheme saved up to 90% energy as compared to the continuous operating mode. This low-power mode may be advantageous for applications that do not require continuous and periodic measurements, and which can tolerate slightly higher prediction errors.

Keywords: Smartphone, Metal-oxide semiconductor, Gas sensor, Low power, Temperature-modulation, Interferences


Laguna, Pablo, Garde, Ainara, Giraldo, Beatriz F., Meste, Olivier, Jané, Raimon, Sörnmo, Leif, (2018). Eigenvalue-based time delay estimation of repetitive biomedical signals Digital Signal Processing 75, 107-119

The time delay estimation problem associated with an ensemble of misaligned, repetitive signals is revisited. Each observed signal is assumed to be composed of an unknown, deterministic signal corrupted by Gaussian, white noise. This paper shows that maximum likelihood (ML) time delay estimation can be viewed as the maximization of an eigenvalue ratio, where the eigenvalues are obtained from the ensemble correlation matrix. A suboptimal, one-step time delay estimate is proposed for initialization of the ML estimator, based on one of the eigenvectors of the inter-signal correlation matrix. With this approach, the ML estimates can be determined without the need for an intermediate estimate of the underlying, unknown signal. Based on respiratory flow signals, simulations show that the variance of the time delay estimation error for the eigenvalue-based method is almost the same as that of the ML estimator. Initializing the maximization with the one-step estimates, rather than using the ML estimator alone, the computation time is reduced by a factor of 5M when using brute force maximization (M denoting the number of signals in the ensemble), and a factor of about 1.5 when using particle swarm maximization. It is concluded that eigenanalysis of the ensemble correlation matrix not only provides valuable insight on how signal energy, jitter, and noise influence the estimation process, but it also leads to a one-step estimator which can make the way for a substantial reduction in computation time.

Keywords: Biomedical signals, Time delay estimation, Eigenanalysis, Ensemble analysis


Moulin-Frier, C., Puigbò, J. Y., Arsiwalla, X. D., Sanchez-Fibla, M., Verschure, P., (2018). Embodied artificial intelligence through distributed adaptive control: An integrated framework ICDL-EpiRob 2017 7th Joint IEEE International Conference on Development and Learning and on Epigenetic Robotics , IEEE (Lisbon, Portugal) , 324-330

In this paper, we argue that the future of Artificial Intelligence research resides in two keywords: integration and embodiment. We support this claim by analyzing the recent advances in the field. Regarding integration, we note that the most impactful recent contributions have been made possible through the integration of recent Machine Learning methods (based in particular on Deep Learning and Recurrent Neural Networks) with more traditional ones (e.g. Monte-Carlo tree search, goal babbling exploration or addressable memory systems). Regarding embodiment, we note that the traditional benchmark tasks (e.g. visual classification or board games) are becoming obsolete as state-of-the-art learning algorithms approach or even surpass human performance in most of them, having recently encouraged the development of first-person 3D game platforms embedding realistic physics. Building on this analysis, we first propose an embodied cognitive architecture integrating heterogeneous subfields of Artificial Intelligence into a unified framework. We demonstrate the utility of our approach by showing how major contributions of the field can be expressed within the proposed framework. We then claim that benchmarking environments need to reproduce ecologically-valid conditions for bootstrapping the acquisition of increasingly complex cognitive skills through the concept of a cognitive arms race between embodied agents.

Keywords: Cognitive Architectures, Embodied Artificial Intelligence, Evolutionary Arms Race, Unified Theories of Cognition


Verschure, P., (2018). Capabilities Living machines: A handbook of research in biomimetics and biohybrid systems (ed. Prescott, T. J., Lepora, Nathan, Verschure, P.), Oxford Scholarship (Oxford, UK) , 211-217

This chapter introduces the “Capabilities” section of the Handbook of Living Machines. Where the previous section considered building blocks, we recognize that components or modules do not automatically make systems. Hence, in the remainder of this handbook, the emphasis is toward the capabilities of living systems and their emulation in artifacts. Capabilities often arise from the integration of multiple components and thus sensitize us to the need to develop a system-level perspective on living machines. Here we summarize and consider the 14 contributions in this section which cover perception, action, cognition, communication, and emotion, and the integration of these through cognitive architectures into systems that can emulate the full gamut of integrated behaviors seen in animals including, potentially, our own capacity for consciousness.

Keywords: Action, Cognition, Cognitive architecture, Communication, Consciousness, Emotion, Perception


Duro-Castano, Aroa, Nebot, Vicent J., Niño-Pariente, Amaya, Armiñán, Ana, Arroyo-Crespo, Juan J., Paul, Alison, Feiner-Gracia, Natalia, Albertazzi, Lorenzo, Vicent, María J., (2017). Capturing “extraordinary” soft-assembled charge-like polypeptides as a strategy for nanocarrier design Advanced Materials , 29, (39), 1702888

The rational design of nanomedicines is a challenging task given the complex architectures required for the construction of nanosized carriers with embedded therapeutic properties and the complex interface of these materials with the biological environment. Herein, an unexpected charge-like attraction mechanism of self-assembly for star-shaped polyglutamates in nonsalty aqueous solutions is identified, which matches the ubiquitous “ordinary–extraordinary” phenomenon previously described by physicists. For the first time, a bottom-up methodology for the stabilization of these nanosized soft-assembled star-shaped polyglutamates is also described, enabling the translation of theoretical research into nanomaterials with applicability within the drug-delivery field. Covalent capture of these labile assemblies provides access to unprecedented architectures to be used as nanocarriers. The enhanced in vitro and in vivo properties of these novel nanoconstructs as drug-delivery systems highlight the potential of this approach for tumor-localized as well as lymphotropic delivery.

Keywords: Charge-like, Drug delivery, Polymer therapeutics, Polypeptides, Self-assembly


Santander-Nelli, M., Silva, C. P., Espinoza-Vergara, J., Silva, J. F., Olguín, C. F., Cortés-Arriagada, D., Zagal, J. H., Mendizabal, F., Díez-Pérez, I., Pavez, J., (2017). Tailoring electroactive surfaces by non-template molecular assembly. Towards electrooxidation of L-cysteine Electrochimica Acta , 254, 201-213

We have prepared a nanoelectrode ensemble containing vertically aligned single walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs) using a non-template molecular self-assembling strategy. We used a bottom-up construction approach to assemble amino functionalized SWCNTs (af-SWCNTs) in a well-defined architecture. These af-SWCNTs were linked and vertically aligned to pre-formed self-assembled monolayers of 4-MBA. A Cobalt(II) tetracarboxyphthalocyanine (Co(COOH)4Pc) complex was covalently bonded to external portion of af-SWCNTs to complete the final nanoelectrode ensemble. X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) and Atomic Force Microcopy (AFM) confirmed the effectiveness of the assembling steps on the gold surface starting from the Au/MBA SAMs. The system Au/4-MBA/af-SWCNTs shows an interface with large ordered array, which exhibits a high activity for the electrooxidation of L-cysteine (L-cys). Theoretical calculations suggest that the incorporation of the af-SWCNTs increased the activity of the assembly to electronic transfer and it was observed that the electrooxidation reaction is energetically favorable.

Keywords: Bottom-up construction, DFT, Modified electrode, Molecular assembly, SAMs, Single walled carbon nanotube


Zaffino, R. L., Mir, M., Samitier, J., (2017). Oligonucleotide probes functionalization of nanogap electrodes Electrophoresis , 38, (21), 2712-2720

Nanogap electrodes have attracted a lot of consideration as promising platform for molecular electronic and biomolecules detection. This is mainly for their higher aspect ratio, and because their electrical properties are easily accessed by current-voltage measurements. Nevertheless, application of standard current-voltages measurements used to characterize nanogap response, and/or to modify specific nanogap electrodes properties, represents an issue. Since the strength of electrical fields in nanoscaled devices can reach high values, even at low voltages. Here, we analyzed the effects induced by different methods of surface modification of nanogap electrodes, in test-voltage application, employed for the electrical detection of a desoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) target. Nanogap electrodes were functionalized with two antisymmetric oligo-probes designed to have 20 terminal bases complementary to the edges of the target, which after hybridization bridges the nanogap, closing the electrical circuit. Two methods of functionalization were studied for this purpose; a random self-assembling of a mixture of the two oligo-probes (OPs) used in the platform, and a selective method that controls the position of each OP at selected side of nanogap electrodes. We used for this aim, the electrophoretic effect induced on negatively charged probes by the application of an external direct current voltage. The results obtained with both functionalization methods where characterized and compared in terms of electrode surface covering, calculated by using voltammetry analysis. Moreover, we contrasted the electrical detection of a DNA target in the nanogap platform either in site-selective and in randomly assembled nanogap. According to our results, a denser, although not selective surface functionalization, is advantageous for such kind of applications.

Keywords: Biosensor bioelectronics, DNA electrophoresis, Nanogap electrodes, Self-assembled monolayers, Site-selective deposition


Garde, A., Sörnmo, L., Laguna, P., Jané, R., Benito, S., Bayés-Genís, A., Giraldo, B. F., (2017). Assessment of respiratory flow cycle morphology in patients with chronic heart failure Medical and Biological Engineering and Computing , 55, (2), 245-255

Breathing pattern as periodic breathing (PB) in chronic heart failure (CHF) is associated with poor prognosis and high mortality risk. This work investigates the significance of a number of time domain parameters for characterizing respiratory flow cycle morphology in patients with CHF. Thus, our primary goal is to detect PB pattern and identify patients at higher risk. In addition, differences in respiratory flow cycle morphology between CHF patients (with and without PB) and healthy subjects are studied. Differences between these parameters are assessed by investigating the following three classification issues: CHF patients with PB versus with non-periodic breathing (nPB), CHF patients (both PB and nPB) versus healthy subjects, and nPB patients versus healthy subjects. Twenty-six CHF patients (8/18 with PB/nPB) and 35 healthy subjects are studied. The results show that the maximal expiratory flow interval is shorter and with lower dispersion in CHF patients than in healthy subjects. The flow slopes are much steeper in CHF patients, especially for PB. Both inspiration and expiration durations are reduced in CHF patients, mostly for PB. Using the classification and regression tree technique, the most discriminant parameters are selected. For signals shorter than 1 min, the time domain parameters produce better results than the spectral parameters, with accuracies for each classification of 82/78, 89/85, and 91/89 %, respectively. It is concluded that morphologic analysis in the time domain is useful, especially when short signals are analyzed.

Keywords: Chronic heart failure, Ensemble average, Periodic and non-periodic breathing, Respiratory pattern


Moulin-Frier, C., Puigbò, J.-Y., Arsiwalla, Xerxes D., Martì Sanchez-Fibla, M., Verschure, Paul F. M. J., (2017). Embodied artificial intelligence through distributed adaptive control: An integrated framework 7th Joint IEEE International Conference on Development and Learning and on Epigenetic Robotics (ICDL-Epirob 2017) , IEEE (Lisbon, Portugal) , 1-8

In this paper, we argue that the future of Artificial Intelligence research resides in two keywords: integration and embodiment. We support this claim by analyzing the recent advances of the field. Regarding integration, we note that the most impactful recent contributions have been made possible through the integration of recent Machine Learning methods (based in particular on Deep Learning and Recurrent Neural Networks) with more traditional ones (e.g. Monte-Carlo tree search, goal babbling exploration or addressable memory systems). Regarding embodiment, we note that the traditional benchmark tasks (e.g. visual classification or board games) are becoming obsolete as state-of-the-art learning algorithms approach or even surpass human performance in most of them, having recently encouraged the development of first-person 3D game platforms embedding realistic physics. Building upon this analysis, we first propose an embodied cognitive architecture integrating heterogenous sub-fields of Artificial Intelligence into a unified framework. We demonstrate the utility of our approach by showing how major contributions of the field can be expressed within the proposed framework. We then claim that benchmarking environments need to reproduce ecologically-valid conditions for bootstrapping the acquisition of increasingly complex cognitive skills through the concept of a cognitive arms race between embodied agents.

Keywords: Cognitive Architectures, Embodied Artificial Intelligence, Evolutionary Arms Race, Unified Theories of Cognition


Beun, L. H., Albertazzi, L., Van Der Zwaag, D., De Vries, R., Cohen Stuart, M. A., (2016). Unidirectional living growth of self-assembled protein nanofibrils revealed by super-resolution microscopy ACS Nano 10, (5), 4973-4980

Protein-based nanofibrils are emerging as a promising class of materials that provide unique properties for applications such as biomedical and food engineering. Here, we use atomic force microscopy and stochastic optical reconstruction microscopy imaging to elucidate the growth dynamics, exchange kinetics, and polymerization mechanism for fibrils composed of a de novo designed recombinant triblock protein polymer. This macromolecule features a silk-inspired self-assembling central block composed of GAGAGAGH repeats, which are known to fold into a β roll with turns at each histidine and, once folded, to stack, forming a long, ribbon-like structure. We find several properties that allow the growth of patterned protein nanofibrils: the self-assembly takes place on only one side of the growing fibrils by the essentially irreversible addition of protein polymer subunits, and these fibril ends remain reactive indefinitely in the absence of monomer ("living ends"). Exploiting these characteristics, we can grow stable diblock protein nanofibrils by the sequential addition of differently labeled proteins. We establish control over the block length ratio by simply varying monomer feed conditions. Our results demonstrate the use of engineered protein polymers in creating precisely patterned protein nanofibrils and open perspectives for the hierarchical self-assembly of functional biomaterials.

Keywords: Nanofibrils, Protein polymers, Self-assembly, STORM microscopy


Maggi, Claudio, Simmchen, Juliane, Saglimbeni, Filippo, Katuri, Jaideep, Dipalo, Michele, De Angelis, Francesco, Sánchez, Samuel, Di Leonardo, Roberto, (2016). Self-assembly of micromachining systems powered by Janus micromotors Small 12, (4), 446-451

Janus particles can self-assemble around microfabricated gears in reproducible configurations with a high degree of spatial and orientational order. The final configuration maximizes the torque applied on the rotor leading to a unidirectional and steady rotating motion. The interplay between geometry and dynamical behavior leads to the self-assembly of Janus micromotors starting from randomly distributed particles.

Keywords: Active catalytic particles, Microgears, Micromachines, Janus particles, Self-assembly, Self-propulsion


Parra-Cabrera, C., Samitier, J., Homs-Corbera, A., (2016). Multiple biomarkers biosensor with just-in-time functionalization: Application to prostate cancer detection Biosensors and Bioelectronics 77, 1192-1200

We present a novel lab-on-a-chip (LOC) device for the simultaneous detection of multiple biomarkers using simple voltage measurements. The biosensor functionalization is performed in-situ, immediately before its use, facilitating reagents storage and massive devices fabrication. Sensitivity, limit of detection (LOD) and limit of quantification (LOQ) are tunable depending on the in-chip flown sample volumes. As a proof-of-concept, the system has been tested and adjusted to quantify two proteins found in blood that are susceptible to be used combined, as a screening tool, to diagnose prostate cancer (PCa): prostate-specific antigen (PSA) and spondin-2 (SPON2). This combination of biomarkers has been reported to be more specific for PCa diagnostics than the currently accepted but rather controversial PSA indicator. The range of detection for PSA and SPON2 could be adjusted to the clinically relevant range of 1 to 10. ng/ml. The system was tested for specificity to the evaluated biomarkers. This multiplex system can be modified and adapted to detect a larger quantity of biomarkers, or different ones, of relevance to other specific diseases.

Keywords: Adjustable sensing, Impedance measurements, In situ functionalization, Microfluidics, Prostate specific antigen, Self-assembled monolayers


Fonollosa, J., Fernández, L., Gutiérrez-Gálvez, A., Huerta, R., Marco, S., (2016). Calibration transfer and drift counteraction in chemical sensor arrays using Direct Standardization Sensors and Actuators B: Chemical 236, 1044-1053

Inherent variability of chemical sensors makes it necessary to calibrate chemical detection systems individually. This shortcoming has traditionally limited usability of systems based on metal oxide gas sensor arrays and prevented mass-production for some applications. Here, aiming at exploring calibration transfer between chemical sensor arrays, we exposed five twin 8-sensor detection units to different concentration levels of ethanol, ethylene, carbon monoxide, or methane. First, we built calibration models using data acquired with a master unit. Second, to explore the transferability of the calibration models, we used Direct Standardization to map the signals of a slave unit to the space of the master unit in calibration. In particular, we evaluated the transferability of the calibration models to other detection units, and within the same unit measuring days apart. Our results show that signals acquired with one unit can be successfully mapped to the space of a reference unit. Hence, calibration models trained with a master unit can be extended to slave units using a reduced number of transfer samples, diminishing thereby calibration costs. Similarly, signals of a sensing unit can be transformed to match sensor behavior in the past to mitigate drift effects. Therefore, the proposed methodology can reduce calibration costs in mass-production and delay recalibrations due to sensor aging. Acquired dataset is made publicly available.

Keywords: Calibration transfer, Chemical sensors, Direct Standardization, Electronic nose, MOX sensors, Public dataset


Lozano-Garcia, M., Fiz, J. A., Jané, R., (2016). Performance evaluation of the Hilbert–Huang transform for respiratory sound analysis and its application to continuous adventitious sound characterization Signal Processing , 120, 99-116

Abstract The use of the Hilbert–Huang transform in the analysis of biomedical signals has increased during the past few years, but its use for respiratory sound (RS) analysis is still limited. The technique includes two steps: empirical mode decomposition (EMD) and instantaneous frequency (IF) estimation. Although the mode mixing (MM) problem of EMD has been widely discussed, this technique continues to be used in many RS analysis algorithms. In this study, we analyzed the MM effect in RS signals recorded from 30 asthmatic patients, and studied the performance of ensemble EMD (EEMD) and noise-assisted multivariate EMD (NA-MEMD) as means for preventing this effect. We propose quantitative parameters for measuring the size, reduction of MM, and residual noise level of each method. These parameters showed that EEMD is a good solution for MM, thus outperforming NA-MEMD. After testing different IF estimators, we propose Kay׳s method to calculate an EEMD-Kay-based Hilbert spectrum that offers high energy concentrations and high time and high frequency resolutions. We also propose an algorithm for the automatic characterization of continuous adventitious sounds (CAS). The tests performed showed that the proposed EEMD-Kay-based Hilbert spectrum makes it possible to determine CAS more precisely than other conventional time-frequency techniques.

Keywords: Hilbert–Huang transform, Ensemble empirical mode decomposition, Instantaneous frequency, Respiratory sounds, Continuous adventitious sounds


Huerta, R., Mosqueiro, T., Fonollosa, J., Rulkov, N.F., Rodríguez-Lujan, I., (2016). Online decorrelation of humidity and temperature in chemical sensors for continuous monitoring Chemometrics and Intelligent Laboratory Systems , 157, 169-176

A method for online decorrelation of chemical sensor signals from the effects of environmental humidity and temperature variations is proposed. The goal is to improve the accuracy of electronic nose measurements for continuous monitoring by processing data from simultaneous readings of environmental humidity and temperature. The electronic nose setup built for this study included eight metal-oxide sensors, temperature and humidity sensors with a wireless communication link to external computer. This wireless electronic nose was used to monitor the air for two years in the residence of one of the authors and it collected data continuously during 537 days with a sampling rate of 1 sample per second. To estimate the effects of variations in air humidity and temperature on the chemical sensors' signals, we used a standard energy band model for an n-type metal-oxide (MOX) gas sensor. The main assumption of the model is that variations in sensor conductivity can be expressed as a nonlinear function of changes in the semiconductor energy bands in the presence of external humidity and temperature variations. Fitting this model to the collected data, we confirmed that the most statistically significant factors are humidity changes and correlated changes of temperature and humidity. This simple model achieves excellent accuracy with a coefficient of determination R2 close to 1. To show how the humidity–temperature correction model works for gas discrimination, we constructed a model for online discrimination among banana, wine and baseline response. This shows that pattern recognition algorithms improve performance and reliability by including the filtered signal of the chemical sensors.

Keywords: Electronic nose, Chemical sensors, Humidity, Temperature, Decorrelation, Wireless e-nose, MOX sensors, Energy band model, Home monitoring


Coelho, N. M., Llopis-Hernández, V., Salmerón-Sánchez, M., Altankov, G., (2016). Dynamic reorganization and enzymatic remodeling of type IV collagen at cell–biomaterial interface Advances in Protein Chemistry and Structural Biology (ed. Christo, Z. Christov), Academic Press (San Diego, USA) 105, 81-104

Abstract Vascular basement membrane remodeling involves assembly and degradation of its main constituents, type IV collagen (Col IV) and laminin, which is critical during development, angiogenesis, and tissue repair. Remodeling can also occur at cell–biomaterials interface altering significantly the biocompatibility of implants. Here we describe the fate of adsorbed Col IV in contact with endothelial cells adhering on positively charged NH2 or hydrophobic CH3 substrata, both based on self-assembly monolayers (SAMs) and studied alone or mixed in different proportions. AFM studies revealed distinct pattern of adsorbed Col IV, varying from single molecular deposition on pure NH2 to network-like assembly on mixed SAMs, turning to big globular aggregates on bare CH3. Human umbilical endothelial cells (HUVECs) interact better with Col IV adsorbed as single molecules on NH2 surface and readily rearrange it in fibril-like pattern that coincide with secreted fibronectin fibrils. The cells show flattened morphology and well-developed focal adhesion complexes that are rich on phosphorylated FAK while expressing markedly low pericellular proteolytic activity. Conversely, on hydrophobic CH3 substrata HUVECs showed abrogated spreading and FAK phosphorylation, combined with less reorganization of the aggregated Col IV and significantly increased proteolytic activity. The later involves both MMP-2 and MMP-9, as measured by zymography and FITC-Col IV release. The mixed SAMs support intermediate remodeling activity. Taken together these results show that chemical functionalization combined with Col IV preadsorption provides a tool for guiding the endothelial cells behavior and pericellular proteolytic activity, events that strongly affect the fate of cardiovascular implants.

Keywords: Type IV collagen, Adsorption, Remodeling, Pericellular proteolysis, Reorganization, Substratum chemistry, CH3 and NH2 groups, Self-assembly monolayers


Aragonès, Albert C., Darwish, Nadim, Im, JongOne, Lim, Boram, Choi, Jeongae, Koo, Sangho, Díez-Pérez, Ismael, (2015). Fine-tuning of single-molecule conductance by tweaking both electronic structure and conformation of side substituents Chemistry – A European Journal , 21, (21), 7716-7720

Herein, we describe a method to fine-tune the conductivity of single-molecule wires by employing a combination of chemical composition and geometrical modifications of multiple phenyl side groups as conductance modulators embedded along the main axis of the electronic pathway. We have measured the single-molecule conductivity of a novel series of phenyl-substituted carotenoid wires whose conductivity can be tuned with high precision over an order of magnitude range by modulating both the electron-donating character of the phenyl substituent and its dihedral angle. It is demonstrated that the electronic communication between the phenyl side groups and the molecular wire is maximized when the phenyl groups are twisted closer to the plane of the conjugated molecular wire. These findings can be refined to a general technique for precisely tuning the conductivity of molecular wires.

Keywords: Carotenoids, Conductance, Self-assembly, Single-molecule studies, STM break junction


Estévez, M., Martínez, Elena, Yarwood, S. J., Dalby, M. J., Samitier, J., (2015). Adhesion and migration of cells responding to microtopography Journal of Biomedical Materials Research - Part A , 103, (5), 1659-1668

It is known that cells respond strongly to microtopography. However, cellular mechanisms of response are unclear. Here, we study wild-type fibroblasts responding to 25 μm2 posts and compare their response to that of FAK-/- fibroblasts and fibroblasts with PMA treatment to stimulate protein kinase C (PKC) and the small g-protein Rac. FAK knockout cells modulated adhesion number and size in a similar way to cells on topography; that is, they used more, smaller adhesions, but migration was almost completely stalled demonstrating the importance of FAK signaling in contact guidance and adhesion turnover. Little similarity, however, was observed to PKC stimulated cells and cells on the topography. Interestingly, with PKC stimulation the cell nuclei became highly deformable bringing focus on these surfaces to the study of metastasis. Surfaces that aid the study of cellular migration are important in developing understanding of mechanisms of wound healing and repair in aligned tissues such as ligament and tendon.

Keywords: Adhesion, Cell migration, Cell morphology, Focal adhesion kinase, Microstructures


Pardo, W. A., Mir, M., Samitier, J., (2015). Signal enhancement in ultraflat electrochemical DNA biosensors Electrophoresis , 36, (16), 1905-1911

The ability of holding back the undesired molecules, but at the same time to provide the right distribution and orientation of the bioreceptors, are critical targets to reach an efficient hybridization and enhanced detection in electrochemical DNA biosensors. The main actors responsible of these key functions are the substrate of the sensor and the interface auto-assembled on it. In this paper we present the annealing as a method to improve commercial gold evaporated substrates for biosensor applications. The restructuring of granulated gold surface by means of annealing heating treatment leads to the formation of ultraflat gold lamellar terraces. The formation of terraces was characterized with scanning tunneling microscopy and optical interferometry. The performance of the sensor sensitivity on granular substrates and ultraflat substrates was studied, concerning the orientation and surface coverage of the bioreceptor interface applied in electrochemical biosensor. The hybridization efficiency of ferrocene-labeled DNA amplified by PCR was characterized with surface plasmon resonance and electrochemistry. The experimental results demonstrate that annealing process, positive influence on optical and voltammetric readings, due to a structured organization of the bioreceptors on the flat substrate, gaining more efficient immobilization and DNA hybridization. The results suggest the annealing as a powerful tool for improving gold substrates in biosensors applications.

Keywords: Annealing ultraflat surfaces, DNA biosensor, DNA hybridization, Electrochemistry, Self-assembled monolayer


Mendes, A. C., Smith, K. H., Tejeda-Montes, E., Engel, E., Reis, R. L., Azevedo, H. S., Mata, Alvaro, (2013). Co-assembled and microfabricated bioactive membranes Advanced Functional Materials 23, (4), 430-438

The fabrication of hierarchical and bioactive self-supporting membranes, which integrate physical and biomolecular elements, using a single-step process that combines molecular self-assembly with soft lithography is reported. A positively charged multidomain peptide (with or without the cell-adhesive sequence arginine-glycine-aspartic acid-serine (RGDS)) self-assembles with hyaluronic acid (HA), an anionic biopolymer. Optimization of the assembling conditions enables the realization of membranes with well-controlled and easily tunable features at multiple size scales including peptide sequence, building-block co-assembly, membrane thickness, bioactive epitope availability, and topographical pattern morphology. Membrane structure, morphology, and bioactivity are investigated according to temperature, assembly time, and variations in the experimental setup. Furthermore, to evaluate the physical and biomolecular signaling of the self-assembled microfabricated membranes, rat mesenchymal stem cells are cultured on membranes exhibiting various densities of RGDS and different topographical patterns. Cell adhesion, spreading, and morphology are significantly affected by the surface topographical patterns and the different concentrations of RGDS. The versatility of the combined bottom-up and top-down fabrication processes described may permit the development of hierarchical macrostructures with precise biomolecular and physical properties and the opportunity to fine tune them with spatiotemporal control.

Keywords: Membrane scaffolds, Mesenchymal stem cells, Microfabrication, Self-assembly, Topography


Marco, S., Gutiérrez-Gálvez, A., Lansner, A., Martinez, D., Rospars, J. P., Beccherelli, R., Perera, A., Pearce, T., Vershure, P., Persaud, K., (2013). Biologically inspired large scale chemical sensor arrays and embedded data processing Proceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering Smart Sensors, Actuators, and MEMS VI , SPIE Digital Library (Grenoble, France) 8763, 1-15

Biological olfaction outperforms chemical instrumentation in specificity, response time, detection limit, coding capacity, time stability, robustness, size, power consumption, and portability. This biological function provides outstanding performance due, to a large extent, to the unique architecture of the olfactory pathway, which combines a high degree of redundancy, an efficient combinatorial coding along with unmatched chemical information processing mechanisms. The last decade has witnessed important advances in the understanding of the computational primitives underlying the functioning of the olfactory system. EU Funded Project NEUROCHEM (Bio-ICT-FET- 216916) has developed novel computing paradigms and biologically motivated artefacts for chemical sensing taking inspiration from the biological olfactory pathway. To demonstrate this approach, a biomimetic demonstrator has been built featuring a large scale sensor array (65K elements) in conducting polymer technology mimicking the olfactory receptor neuron layer, and abstracted biomimetic algorithms have been implemented in an embedded system that interfaces the chemical sensors. The embedded system integrates computational models of the main anatomic building blocks in the olfactory pathway: The olfactory bulb, and olfactory cortex in vertebrates (alternatively, antennal lobe and mushroom bodies in the insect). For implementation in the embedded processor an abstraction phase has been carried out in which their processing capabilities are captured by algorithmic solutions. Finally, the algorithmic models are tested with an odour robot with navigation capabilities in mixed chemical plumes.

Keywords: Antennal lobes, Artificial olfaction, Computational neuroscience, Olfactory bulbs, Plume tracking, Abstracting, Actuators, Algorithms, Biomimetic processes, Chemical sensors, Conducting polymers, Data processing, Flavors, Odors, Robots, Smart sensors, Embedded systems


McLenachan, S., Menchon, C., Raya, A., Consiglio, A., Edel, M. J., (2012). Cyclin A(1) is essential for setting the pluripotent state and reducing tumorigenicity of induced pluripotent stem cells Stem Cells and Development , 21, (15), 2891-2899

The proper differentiation and threat of cancer rising from the application of induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells are major bottlenecks in the field and are thought to be inherently linked to the pluripotent nature of iPS cells. To address this question, we have compared iPS cells to embryonic stem cells (ESCs), the gold standard of ground state pluripotency, in search for proteins that may improve pluripotency of iPS cells. We have found that when reprogramming somatic cells toward pluripotency, 1%-5% of proteins of 5 important cell functions are not set to the correct expression levels compared to ESCs, including mainly cell cycle proteins. We have shown that resetting cyclin A1 protein expression of early- passage iPS cells closer to the ground state pluripotent state of mouse ESCs improves the pluripotency and reduces the threat of cancer of iPS cells. This work is a proof of principle that reveals that setting expression of certain proteins correctly during reprogramming is essential for achieving ESC- state pluripotency. This finding would be of immediate help to those researchers in different fields of iPS cell work that specializes in cell cycle, apoptosis, cell adhesion, cell signaling, and cytoskeleton.

Keywords: Self-renewal, IPS cells, Ground-state, C-MYC, Generation, Pathway, Disease, Mice, Link, P53


Penon, O., Novo, S., Duran, S., Ibanez, E., Nogues, C., Samitier, J., Duch, M., Plaza, J. A., Perez-Garcia, L., (2012). Efficient biofunctionalization of polysilicon barcodes for adhesion to the zona pellucida of mouse embryos Bioconjugate Chemistry , 23, (12), 2392-2402

Cell tracking is an emergent area in nano-biotechnology, promising the study of individual cells or the identification of populations of cultured cells. In our approach, microtools designed for extracellular tagging are prepared, because using biofunctionalized polysilicon barcodes to tag cell membranes externally avoids the inconveniences of cell internalization. The crucial covalent biofunctionalization process determining the ultimate functionality was studied in order to find the optimum conditions to link a biomolecule to a polysilicon barcode surface using a self-assembled monolayer (SAM) as the connector. Specifically, a lectin (wheat germ agglutinin, WGA) was used because of its capacity to recognize some specific carbohydrates present on the surface of most mammalian cells. Self-assembled monolayers were prepared on polysilicon surfaces including aldehyde groups as terminal functions to study the suitability of their covalent chemical bonding to WGA. Some parameters, such as the polysilicon surface roughness or the concentration of WGA, proved to be crucial for successful biofunctionalization and bioactivity. The SAMs were characterized by contact angle measurements, time-of-flight secondary ion mass spectrometry (TOF-SIMS), laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry (LDI-TOF MS), and atomic force microscopy (AFM). The biofunctionalization step was also characterized by fluorescence microscopy and, in the case of barcodes, by adhesion experiments to the zona pellucida of mouse embryos. These experiments showed high barcode retention rates after 96 h of culture as well as high embryo viability to the blastocyst stage, indicating the robustness of the biofunctionalization and, therefore, the potential of these new microtools to be used for cell tagging.

Keywords: Self-assembled monolayers, Wheat-germ-agglutinin, Protein immobilization strategies, Mass-spectrometry, Cell-surface, Petide, Binding, Identifications, Nanoparticles, Recognition


Tort, N., Salvador, J. P., Avino, A., Eritja, R., Comelles, J., Martinez, E., Samitier, J., Marco, M. P., (2012). Synthesis of steroid-oligonucleotide conjugates for a DNA site-encoded SPR immunosensor Bioconjugate Chemistry , 23, (11), 2183-2191

The excellent self-assembling properties of DNA and the excellent specificity of the antibodies to detect analytes of small molecular weight under competitive conditions have been combined in this study. Three oligonucleotide sequences (N(1)up, N(2)up, and N(3)up) have been covalently attached to three steroidal haptens (8, hG, and 13) of three anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS), stanozolol (ST), tetrahydrogestrinone (THG), and boldenone (B), respectively. The synthesis of steroid oligonucleotide conjugates has been performed by the reaction of oligonucleotides carrying amino groups with carboxyl acid derivatives of steroidal haptens. Due to the chemical nature of the steroid derivatives, two methods for coupling the haptens and the ssDNA have been studied: a solid-phase coupling strategy and a solution-phase coupling strategy. Specific antibodies against ST, THG, and B have been used in this study to asses the possibility of using the self-assembling properties of the DNA to prepare biofunctional SPR gold chips based on the immobilization of haptens, by hybridization with the complementary oligonucleotide strands possessing SH groups previously immobilized. The capture of the steroid oligonucleotide conjugates and subsequent binding of the specific antibodies can be monitored on the sensogram due to variations produced on the refractive index on top of the gold chip. The resulting steroid oligonucleotide conjugates retain the hybridization and specific binding properties of oligonucleotides and haptens as demonstrated by thermal denaturation experiments and surface plasmon resonance (SPR).

Keywords: Directed protein immobilization, Plasmon resonance biosensor, Self-assembled monolayers, Label-free, Serum samples, Assay, Immunoassays, Antibodies, Progress, Binding


Valle-Delgado, J. J., Liepina, I., Lapidus, D., Sabaté, R., Ventura, S., Samitier, J., Fernàndez-Busquets, X., (2012). Self-assembly of human amylin-derived peptides studied by atomic force microscopy and single molecule force spectroscopy Soft Matter , 8, (4), 1234-1242

The self-assembly of peptides and proteins into amyloid fibrils of nanometric thickness and up to several micrometres in length, a phenomenon widely observed in biological systems, has recently aroused a growing interest in nanotechnology and nanomedicine. Here we have applied atomic force microscopy and single molecule force spectroscopy to study the amyloidogenesis of a peptide derived from human amylin and of its reverse sequence. The spontaneous formation of protofibrils and their orientation along well-defined directions on graphite and DMSO-coated graphite substrates make the studied peptides interesting candidates for nanotechnological applications. The measured binding forces between peptides correlate with the number of hydrogen bonds between individual peptides inside the fibril structure according to molecular dynamics simulations.

Keywords: Amyloid fibril, Amyloidogenesis, Binding forces, Fibril structure, Graphite substrate, Molecular dynamics simulations, Nanometrics, Protofibrils, Single molecule force spectroscopy, Spontaneous formation, Atomic force microscopy, Atomic spectroscopy, Graphite, Hydrogen bonds, Medical nanotechnology, Molecular dynamics, Molecular physics, Self assembly, Thickness measurement, Peptides


Armendáriz, Beatriz G., Bribian, Ana, Pérez-Martínez, Esther, Martínez, Albert, de Castro, Fernando, Soriano, Eduardo, Burgaya, Ferran, (2012). Expression of Semaphorin 4F in neurons and brain oligodendrocytes and the regulation of oligodendrocyte precursor migration in the optic nerve Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience , 49, (1), 54-67

Semaphorins are secreted or membrane-anchored proteins that play critical roles in neural development and adult brain plasticity. Sema4F is a transmembrane semaphorin found on glutamatergic synapses, in which it is attached to the PSD-95-scaffolding protein. Here we further examined the expression of Sema4F by raising specific antibodies. We show that Sema4F protein is widely expressed by neurons during neural development and in the adult brain. We also demonstrate a preferential localization of this protein in postsynaptic dendrites. Moreover, Sema4F is expressed not only by neurons but also by oligodendrocyte precursors in the optic nerve and along the migratory pathways of oligodendroglial cells, and also by subsets of postnatal oligodendroglial cells in the brain. Finally, in vitro experiments demonstrate that endogenous Sema4F expressed by brain cells of oligodendroglial lineage regulates the outgrowth migration of oligodendrocyte precursors and promotes their differentiation. The present data extend our knowledge about the expression of Sema4F and uncover a novel function in the control of oligodendrocyte precursor migration in the developing brain.

Keywords: Semaphorin, Oligodendrocyte, Guidance, Optic nerve, Brain


Baccar, Z.M., Caballero, D., Eritja, R., Errachid, A., (2012). Development of an impedimetric DNA-biosensor based on layered double hydroxide for the detection of long ssDNA sequences Electrochimica Acta , 74, 123-129

DNA testing requires the development of sensitive and fast devices to measure the presence of nucleic acid sequences by DNA hybridization. In this paper, a simple and label-free DNA-biosensor has been investigated based on the detection of DNA hybridization on layered double hydroxide (LDH) nanomaterials with special emphasis on targeting long single stranded DNA sequences. First, the immobilization of a 20 bases long DNA probe on a thin layer of Mg2AlCO3 and Mg3AlCO3 LDH was studied. Then, DNA hybridization reaction was detected by means of Electrochemical Impedance Spectroscopy. The resulting biosensor showed a high sensitivity for the detection of 80 bases long DNA complementary sequences. The dynamic range was 18–270 ng/ml with a detection limit lower than 1.8 ng/ml.

Keywords: DNA-biosensor, Nanomaterials, Layered double hydroxide, Self-assembly


Garde, A., Laguna, P., Giraldo, B.F., Jané, R., Sörnmo, L., (2012). Ensemble-based time alignment of biomedical signals Proceedings BSI 2012 7th International Workshop on Biosignal Interpretation (BSI 2012) , IEEE (Como, Italy) W3: METHODS FOR BIOMEDICAL SIGNAL PROCESSING ENHANCEMENT, 307-310

In this paper, the problem of time alignment is revisited by adopting an ensemble-based approach with all signals jointly aligned. It is shown that the maximization of an eigenvalue ratio is synonymous to maximizing the signal-to-jitter-and-noise ratio. Since optimization of this criterion is extremely time consuming, a relaxed optimization procedure is introduced which converges much more quickly. Using simulations based on respiratory flow signals, the results suggest that the time delay error variance of the new method is much lower than that obtained with the well-known Woody’s method.

Keywords: Time alignment, Signal ensemble, Subsample precision, Eigenvalue decomposition


Simao, C., Mas-Torrent, M., Crivillers, N., Lloveras, V., Artés, Juan Manuel, Gorostiza, Pau, Veciana, Jaume, Rovira, C., (2011). A robust molecular platform for non-volatile memory devices with optical and magnetic responses Nature Chemistry , 3, (5), 359-364

Bistable molecules that behave as switches in solution have long been known. Systems that can be reversibly converted between two stable states that differ in their physical properties are particularly attractive in the development of memory devices when immobilized in substrates. Here, we report a highly robust surface-confined switch based on an electroactive, persistent organic radical immobilized on indium tin oxide substrates that can be electrochemically and reversibly converted to the anion form. This molecular bistable system behaves as an extremely robust redox switch in which an electrical input is transduced into optical as well as magnetic outputs under ambient conditions. The fact that this molecular surface switch, operating at very low voltages, can be patterned and addressed locally, and also has exceptionally high long-term stability and excellent reversibility and reproducibility, makes it a very promising platform for non-volatile memory devices.

Keywords: Self-assembled monolayers, Chromophore-based monolayers, Ultrathin platinum films, Carbon free-radicals, Per-million levels, Polychlorotriphenylmethyl radicals, Electron-transfer, Surface, Logic, Quantification


Pedro, L., Banos, R. C., Aznar, S., Madrid, C., Balsalobre, C., Juarez, A., (2011). Antibiotics shaping bacterial genome: Deletion of an IS91 flanked virulence determinant upon exposure to subinhibitory antibiotic concentrations PLoS ONE 6, (11), 11

The nucleoid-associated proteins Hha and YdgT repress the expression of the toxin a-hemolysin. An Escherichia coli mutant lacking these proteins overexpresses the toxin a-hemolysin encoded in the multicopy recombinant plasmid pANN202-312R. Unexpectedly, we could observe that this mutant generated clones that no further produced hemolysin (Hly(-)). Generation of Hly(-) clones was dependent upon the presence in the culture medium of the antibiotic kanamycin (km), a marker of the hha allele (hha::Tn5). Detailed analysis of different Hly(-) clones evidenced that recombination between partial IS91 sequences that flank the hly operon had occurred. A fluctuation test evidenced that the presence of km in the culture medium was underlying the generation of these clones. A decrease of the km concentration from 25 mg/l to 12.5 mg/l abolished the appearance of Hly(-) derivatives. We considered as a working hypothesis that, when producing high levels of the toxin (combination of the hha ydgT mutations with the presence of the multicopy hemolytic plasmid pANN202-312R), the concentration of km of 25 mg/l resulted subinhibitory and stimulated the recombination between adjacent IS91 flanking sequences. To further test this hypothesis, we analyzed the effect of subinhibitory km concentrations in the wild type E. coli strain MG1655 harboring the parental low copy number plasmid pHly152. At a km concentration of 5 mg/l, subinhibitory for strain MG1655 (pHly152), generation of Hly(-) clones could be readily detected. Similar results were also obtained when, instead of km, ampicillin was used. IS91 is flanking several virulence determinants in different enteric bacterial pathogenic strains from E. coli and Shigella. The results presented here evidence that stress generated by exposure to subinhibitory antibiotic concentrations may result in rearrangements of the bacterial genome. Whereas some of these rearrangements may be deleterious, others may generate genotypes with increased virulence, which may resume infection.

Keywords: Promotes horizontal dissemination, Enterica serovar typhimurium, Escherichia-coli strains, Insertion-sequence IS91, H-NS, Adaptive amplification, Pathogenicity islands, Hemolysin


Miranda Coelho, Nuno, Gonzalez-Garcia, Cristina, Salmeron-Sanchez, Manuel, Altankov, George, (2011). Arrangement of type IV collagen and laminin on substrates with controlled density of -OH groups Tissue Engineering Part A , 17, (17-18), 2245-2257

Collagen IV (Col IV) and laminin (Lam) are the main structural components of the basement membrane where they form two overlapping polymeric networks. We studied the adsorption pattern of these proteins on five model surfaces with tailored density of -OH groups obtained by copolymerization of different ratios ethyl acrylate (EA) and hydroxyl EA (HEA): X(OH) = 0, X(OH) = 0.3, X(OH) = 0.5, X(OH) = 0.7, and X(OH) = 1 (where X refers the ratio of HEA). Atomic force microscopy revealed substratum-specific adsorption patterns of Col IV and Lam, ranging from single molecules deposition on more hydrophilic substrata to the formation of complex networks on hydrophobic ones. Human umbilical endothelial cells were used to study the biological performance of adsorbed proteins, following the overall cell morphology, the quantities for cell adhesion and spreading, and the development of focal adhesion complexes and actin cytoskeleton. Surprisingly, two optima in the cellular interaction were observed-one on the most hydrophilic X(OH) = 1 and other on the relatively hydrophobic X(OH) = 0.3 substrate-valid for both Col IV and Lam. When the proteins were adsorbed consecutively, a hydrophobic shift to X(OH) = 0 substratum was obtained. Collectively, these data suggest that varying with the density of -OH groups one can tailor the conformation and the functional activity of adsorbed basement membrane proteins.

Keywords: Atomic-force microscopy, Fibronectin adsorption, Basement-membranes, Polymer surfaces, Cell-adhesion, Biomaterials, Wettability, Fibrinogen


Miranda Coelho, Nuno, Gonzalez-Garcia, Cristina, Salmeron-Sanchez, Manuel, Altankov, George, (2011). Arrangement of type IV collagen on NH(2) and COOH functionalized surfaces Biotechnology and Bioengineering , 108, (12), 3009-3018

Apart from the paradigm that cell-biomaterials interaction depends on the adsorption of soluble adhesive proteins we anticipate that upon distinct conditions also other, less soluble ECM proteins such as collagens, associate with the biomaterials interface with consequences for cellular response that might be of significant bioengineering interest. Using atomic force microscopy (AFM) we seek to follow the nanoscale behavior of adsorbed type IV collagen (Col IV)-a unique multifunctional matrix protein involved in the organization of basement membranes (BMs) including vascular ones. We have previously shown that substratum wettability significantly affects Col IV adsorption pattern, and in turn alters endothelial cells interaction. Here we introduce two new model surfaces based on self-assembled monolayers (SAMs), a positively charged - NH(2), and negatively charged -COOH surface, to learn more about their particular effect on Col IV behavior. AFM studies revealed distinct pattern of Col IV assembly onto the two SAMs resembling different aspects of network-like structure or aggregates (suggesting altered protein conformation). Moreover, the amount of adsorbed FITC-labeled Col IV was quantified and showed about twice more protein on NH(2) substrata. Human umbilical vein endothelial cells attached less efficiently to Col IV adsorbed on negatively charged COOH surface judged by altered cell spreading, focal adhesions formation, and actin cytoskeleton development. Immunofluorescence studies also revealed better Col IV recognition by both alpha(1) and alpha(2) integrins on positively charged NH(2) substrata resulting in higher phosphorylated focal adhesion kinase recruitment in the focal adhesion complexes. On COOH surface, no integrin clustering was observed. Taken altogether these results, point to the possibility that combined NH(2) and Col IV functionalization may support endothelization of cardiovascular implants.

Keywords: Collagen type IV, SAMs, AFM, Surface-induced protein assembly, Endothelial cells, Vascular grafts


Tahirbegi, I. B., Mir, M., (2011). Slit-wave model for band structures in solid state physics Modern Physics Letters B , 25, (3), 151-161

The reason behind the entire development in silicon technology was band models in solid state physics. However, the theories postulated in order to give response to this phenomenon do not explain all kinds of materials. In a bid to overcome this limitation, we approach the problem from another point of view. In this work, the wave properties of the electrons from the external orbitals of the atoms and its diffraction patterns through the lattice structure of the material have been used to explain the band structure of metals, semiconductor and insulators. In order to probe this hypothesis, a simulation has been used and according to the relation between the lattice constant and the atomic diameter, the splitting of the bands have been observed for different kind of materials, showing a strong correlation between the simulation and the experimental results.

Keywords: Electrical band structure, Band gap, Fraunhofer diffraction, Semiconductor, Insulator


Martinez, Elena, Samitier, Josep, (2011). Soft lithography and variants Generating micro- and nanopatterns on polymeric materials (ed. del Campo, Aranzazu , Arzt, Eduard), Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH&Co (Weinheim) , 57-66

Coelho, N. M., Gonzalez-Garcia, C., Planell, J. A., Salmeron-Sanchez, M., Altankov, G., (2010). Different assembly of type iv collagen on hydrophilic and hydrophobic substrata alters endothelial cells interaction European Cells & Materials , 19, 262-272

Considering the structural role of type IV collagen (Col IV) in the assembly of the basement membrane (BM) and the perspective of mimicking its organization for vascular tissue engineering purposes, we studied the adsorption pattern of this protein on model hydrophilic (clean glass) and hydrophobic trichloro(octadecyl) silane (ODS) surfaces known to strongly affect the behavior of other matrix proteins. The amount of fluorescently labeled Col IV was quantified showing saturation of the surface for concentration of the adsorbing solution of about 50 mu g/ml, but with approximately twice more adsorbed protein on ODS. AFM studies revealed a fine-nearly single molecular size-network arrangement of Col IV on hydrophilic glass, which turns into a prominent and growing polygonal network consisting of molecular aggregates on hydrophobic ODS. The protein layer forms within minutes in a concentration-dependent manner. We further found that human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVEC) attach less efficiently to the aggregated Col IV (on ODS), as judged by the significantly altered cell spreading, focal adhesions formation and the development of actin cytoskeleton. Conversely, the immunofluorescence studies for integrins revealed that the fine Col IV network formed on hydrophilic substrata is better recognized by the cells via both alpha 1 and alpha 2 heterodimers which support cellular interaction, apart from these on hydrophobic ODS where almost no clustering of integrins was observed.

Keywords: Collagen type IV, Adsorption, Assembly, Hydrophilic, Hydrophobic, Surfaces


Toromanov, Georgi, González-García, Cristina, Altankov, George, Salmerón-Sánchez, Manuel, (2010). Vitronectin activity on polymer substrates with controlled -OH density Polymer , 51, (11), 2329-2336

Vitronectin (VN) adsorption on a family of model substrates consisting of copolymers of ethyl acrylate and hydroxyl ethylacrylate in different ratios (to obtain a controlled surface density of -OH groups) was investigated by Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM). It is shown that the fraction of the substrate covered by the protein depends strongly on the amount of hydroxyl groups in the sample and it monotonically decreases as the -OH density increases. Isolated globular-like VN molecules are observed on the surfaces with the higher OH density. As the fraction of hydroxyl groups decreases, aggregates of 3-5 VN molecules are observed on the sample. Overall cell morphology, focal adhesion formation and actin cytoskeleton development are investigated to assess the biological activity of the adsorbed VN on the different surfaces. Dermal fibroblast cells show excellent material interaction on the more hydrophobic samples (OH contents lower than 0.5), which reveals enhanced VN activity on this family of substrates as compared with other extracellular matrix proteins (e.g., fibronectin and fibrinogen).

Keywords: Copolymers, Vitronectin, AFM, Self-assembled monolayers, Cell-adhesion, Thermal transitions, Protein adsorption, Surfaces, Fibronectin, Biomaterials, Attachment, Fibrinogen


Messeguer, J., Masip, I., Montolio, M., del Rio, J. A., Soriano, E., Messeguer, A., (2010). Peptoids bearing tertiary amino residues in the n-alkyl side chains: synthesis of a potent inhibitor of Semaphorin 3A Tetrahedron , 66, (13), 2444-2454

A study on the preparation of N-alkylglycines (peptoids) that contain tertiary amino residues on the N-alkyl side chains is reported. The appropriate combination of the submonomer strategy with N-alkylglycine monomer couplings depending upon the structure of the N-alkyl side chain that must be incorporated into the peptoid is determinant for the efficiency of the synthetic pathway. The application of this strategy to the preparation of SICHI, an N-alkyglycine trimer containing tertiary amino residues in the three N-alkyl branches, and that has been identified as a potent Semaphorin 3A inhibitor, is presented.

Keywords: Peptoids, N-Alkylglycine monomers, Solid-phase synthesis, Semaphorin inhibition, Axonal regeneration


de Oliveira, I. A. M., Vocanson, F., Uttaro, J. P., Asfari, Z., Mills, C. A., Samitier, J., Errachid, A., (2010). Characterization of a self-assembled monolayer based on a calix[4]crown-5 derivate: fabrication of a chemical sensor sensitive to calcium Journal of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology , 10, (1), 413-420

The synthesis and self-assembled monolayer (SAM) formation of a calix[4]crown-5 derivative are reported. Several techniques, including electrochemistry, atomic force microscopy (AFM), Time-of-flight secondary ion mass spectrometry (ToF-SIMS) and contact angle measurements have been applied to characterise the monolayer film designed for chemical sensor applications. The recognition properties of this SAM for metal cations has been investigated using impedance spectroscopy (IS) showing an electrochemical response proportional to calcium ion concentration in the range from 10(-7) M to 10(-2) M. This response is related to microscopic changes at the gold surface induced by selective binding by the immobilised calixarene.

Keywords: Calixarenes, Self assembled monolayer, Micro-contact printing, Atomic force microscopy, Impedance spectroscopy


Sarlabous, L., Torres, A., Fiz, J. A., Gea, J., Marti nez-Llorens, J. M., Morera, J., Jané, R., (2010). Interpretation of the approximate entropy using fixed tolerance values as a measure of amplitude variations in biomedical signals Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBC) 32nd Annual International Conference of the IEEE , IEEE (Buenos Aires, Argentina) , 5967-5970

A new method for the quantification of amplitude variations in biomedical signals through moving approximate entropy is presented. Unlike the usual method to calculate the approximate entropy (ApEn), in which the tolerance value (r) varies based on the standard deviation of each moving window, in this work ApEn has been computed using a fixed value of r. We called this method, moving approximate entropy with fixed tolerance values: ApEn/sub f/. The obtained results indicate that ApEn/sub f/ allows determining amplitude variations in biomedical data series. These amplitude variations are better determined when intermediate values of tolerance are used. The study performed in diaphragmatic mechanomyographic signals shows that the ApEn/sub f/ curve is more correlated with the respiratory effort than the standard RMS amplitude parameter. Furthermore, it has been observed that the ApEn/sub f/ parameter is less affected by the existence of impulsive, sinusoidal, constant and Gaussian noises in comparison with the RMS amplitude parameter.

Keywords: Practical, Theoretical or Mathematical/ biomechanics, Entropy, Gaussian noise, Medical signal processing, Muscle, Random processes/ approximate entropy interpretation, Fixed tolerance values, Diaphragmatic mechanomyographic signals, ApEnf curve, Respiratory effort, Gaussian noises


Arteaga, O., Escudero, C., Oncins, G., El-Hachemic, Z., Llorens, J., Crusats, J., Canillas, A., Ribo, J. M., (2009). Reversible mechanical induction of optical activity in solutions of soft-matter nanophases Chemistry - An Asian Journal , 4, (11), 1687-1696

Nanophases of J-aggregates of several achiral amphiphilic porphyrins, which have thin long acicular shapes (nanoribbons), show the immediate and reversible formation of a stationary mechano-chiral state in the solution by vortex stirring, as detected by their circular dichroic signals measured by 2-modulator generallized ellipsometry. The results suggest that when a macroscopic chiral force creates supramolecular chirality, it also creates an enantiomeric excess of screw distortions, which may be detected by their excitonic absorption. An explanation on the effect of the shear flow gradients is proposed on the basis of the orientation of the rotating particles in the vortex and the size, shape, and mechanical properties of the nanoparticles.

Keywords: Chirality, Circular dichroism, Nanoparticles, Selfassembly, Supramolecular chemistry


Fonollosa, J., Carmona, M., Santander, J., Fonseca, L., Moreno, M., Marco, S., (2009). Limits to the integration of filters and lenses on thermoelectric IR detectors by flip-chip techniques Sensors and Actuators A: Physical , 149, (1), 65-73

In the trend towards miniaturization, a detector module containing multiple IR sensor channels is being built and characterized. In its final form it contains thermopiles, narrow band filters and Fresnel lenses. An important feature of such module is the assembly by flip-chip of the IR filters on top of the thermopiles. The performance of the filter-thermopile ensemble has been assessed by physical simulation and experiments and it has been optimized by the use of an empirically validated model. It has been found that integration of filters (or lenses) too close to the IR detector may lead to degraded performance due to thermal coupling. The impact and extent of this degradation has been thoroughly explored, being the main parameter the distance between the IR sensor and the filter. To avoid such detrimental effects a possibility is to set the device in vacuum conditions, obtaining an improved output response and avoiding the influence of the filters. Another way is to increase the solder joint height. Beyond a certain height, the filter is considered to be isolated from the thermopile.

Keywords: Assembly, Infrared sensor, Infrared filter, Fresnel lenses, FEM simulation, Optimization


Zazoua, A., Kherrat, R., Caballero, D., Errachid, A., Jaffrezic-Renault, N., Bessueille, F., Leonard, D., (2009). Characterisation of a Cr(VI) sensitive polysiloxane membrane by x-ray photoelectron spectrometry and atomic force microscopy Sensor Letters 6th Maghreb-Europe Meeting on Materials and Their Applications for Devices and Physical, Chemical and Biological Sensors , AMER SCIENTIFIC PUBLISHERS (Rabat, Morocco) 7, (5), 995-1000

Cr(VI) sensitive polysiloxane membranes containing tributylphosphate (TBP) or trioctylphosphine oxide (TOPO) were characterized in this study. TBP and TOPO as carriers, have a high selectivity for Cr(VI). The Potentiometric response of EMIS (Electrolyte/Membrane/Insulator/Semiconductor) sensors presents a quasi-nernstian response for Cr2O2-7 exchange. The ion exchange is shown by X-ray photoelectron spectrometry (XPS), the binding energy of the Cr 2p1/2 peak corresponding to Cr(VI) and the atomic composition after exposure to Cr(VI) shows a factor 1.7 higher for silopreneTBP membrane. The conformational topography of both polymeric membranes was characterized by Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM), the exchange of Cr(VI) leading to a heterogeneous topographic state. Adhesion force measurements are also performed to study the properties of adhesion of both selective membranes with a non-functionalized Si AFM tip and with an OTS functionalized one to study the interactions between the tip and the membrane, in liquid before and after the exposure of the membrane to ion chromium. The presence of the ionophores does not practically change the adhesion force compared to pure polysiloxane, showing a good solubility of the ionophore and the orientation of the alkyl chains towards the polysiloxane surface. After the exchange with Cr(VI), the adhesion force decreases drastically due to the hydrophilic character of the surface, complex of Cr(VI) with the P-O groups of both ionophore being oriented towards the surface.

Keywords: AFM, Electrolyte/membrane/insulator/semiconductor structures, Polysiloxane membrane, Xps


Olmedo, Ivonne, Araya, Eyleen, Sanz, Fausto, Medina, Elias, Arbiol, Jordi, Toledo, Pedro, Àlvarez-Lueje, Alejandro, Giralt, Ernest, Kogan, Marcelo J., (2008). How changes in the sequence of the peptide CLPFFD-NH2 can modify the conjugation and stability of gold nanoparticles and their affinity for beta-amyloid fibrils Bioconjugate Chemistry , 19, (6), 1154-1163

In a previous work, we studied the interaction of β-amyloid fibrils (Aβ) with gold nanoparticles (AuNP) conjugated with the peptide CLPFFD-NH2. Here, we studied the effect of changing the residue sequence of the peptide CLPFFD-NH2 on the efficiency of conjugation to AuNP, the stability of the conjugates, and the affinity of the conjugates to the Aβ fibrils. We conjugated the AuNP with CLPFFD-NH2 isomeric peptides (CDLPFF-NH2 and CLPDFF-NH2) and characterized the resulting conjugates with different techniques including UV−Vis, TEM, EELS, XPS, analysis of amino acids, agarose gel electrophoresis, and CD. In addition, we determined the proportion of AuNP bonded to the Aβ fibrils by ICP-MS. AuNP-CLPFFD-NH2 was the most stable of the conjugates and presented more affinity for Aβ fibrils with respect to the other conjugates and bare AuNP. These findings help to better understand the way peptide sequences affect conjugation and stability of AuNP and their interaction with Aβ fibrils. The peptide sequence, the steric effects, and the charge and disposition of hydrophilic and hydrophobic residues are crucial parameters when considering the design of AuNP peptide conjugates for biomedical applications.

Keywords: Self-assembled monolayers, Aggregation, Dispersions, Adsorption, Particles, Design, Size


Oncins, Gerard, Vericat, Carolina, Sanz, Fausto, (2008). Mechanical properties of alkanethiol monolayers studied by force spectroscopy Journal of Chemical Physics , 128, (4), 044701

The mechanical properties of alkanethiol monolayers on Au(111) in KOH solution have been studied by force spectroscopy. The analysis of the vertical force versus penetration curves showed that monolayer penetration is a stepped process that combines elastic regions with sudden penetration events. The structural meaning of these events can be explained both by the creation of gauche defects on the hydrocarbon chains and by a cooperative molecular tilting model proposed by Barrena et al. [J. Chem. Phys. 113, 2413 (2000)]. The validity of these models for alkanethiol monolayers of different compactness and chain length has been discussed. The Young's modulus (E) of the monolayers has been calculated by using a recently developed model which considers the thickness of the monolayer as a parameter, thus allowing a decoupling of the mechanical properties of the thiol layer from those of the Au(111) substrate. As a result, the calculated E values are in the range of 50-150 Pa, which are remarkably lower than those previously reported in the literature.

Keywords: Adsorbed layers, AFM, Gold, Monolayers, Organic compounds, Self-assemblyYoung's modulus


Mills, C. A., Pla, M., Martin, C., Lee, M., Kuphal, M., Sisquella, X., Martinez, E., Errachid, A., Samitier, J., (2007). Structured thin organic active layers and their use in electrochemical biosensors Measurement & Control , 40, (3), 88-91

Díez-Pérez, Ismael, Vericat, Carolina, Gorostiza, Pau, Sanz, Fausto, (2006). The iron passive film breakdown in chloride media may be mediated by transient chloride-induced surface states located within the band gap Electrochemistry Communications , 8, (4), 627-632

Despite its tremendous scientific and economic impact, the mechanism that triggers metal passive film breakdown in the presence of aggressive ions remains under discussion. We have studied the iron passive film in chloride media using X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), electrochemical impedance spectroscopy and electrochemical tunneling spectroscopy (ECTS). Ex situ XPS reveal that the film consists exclusively of an Fe(III) oxide without chloride content. In situ ECTS has been used to build up conductance maps of the Fe electrode during its electrochemical oxidation in a borate buffer solution and its breakdown when the film is grown in the presence of chloride. This conductograms provide direct and in situ experimental evidence of chloride-induced surface states within the band gap of the oxide film (~3.3eV). These states enable new charge exchange pathways that allow hole capture at the surface of the n-type Fe(III) oxide. The blocking of VB processes that occurs in the iron passive film is no longer present in chloride media, and electrode corrosion can proceed through these new states. We propose a simple 3-step mechanism for the process, in which chloride anions form an oxidizing Fe(II) surface intermediate but do not participate directly in the reaction.

Keywords: Electrochemical tunneling spectroscopy, Electronic band structure, Fe passive film, Aqueous chloride corrosion, Semiconductor decomposition, Interface states