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The mechanical fracture parameters related to the formation of the solid structure of cement mortars: The tested mixtures were composed of an invariable quantity of cement (type CEM I 42.5 R) and an increasing amount of amorphous Silicon Dioxide (marked with a P), or a variable quantity of cement replaced by varied quantities of amorphous Silicon Dioxide (marked with an N). It was decided that the consistencies of the fresh mixtures should be identical: to ensure this, the water-cement ratio was increased as necessary. Quantification of the mechanical fracture parameters of the studied composites (fracture toughness, fracture energy, compressive strength, modulus of elasticity) was performed via the evaluation of fracture tests performed on beam specimens with an initial stress concentrator loaded in three-point bending. Subsequently, the results of the experiments in the form of load versus displacement diagrams were processed using the effective crack fracture model and the work of fracture method.

Molecular effects of silicon dioxide nanoparticles on cell survival signaling: silicon dioxide (SiO2) nanoparticles induce differential cytotoxic effects in neurons-like SK-N-SH neuroblastoma and astrocytes-like U87 astrocytoma cells. However, because cell survival signaling mechanisms and the effects of SiO2 nanoparticles thereon in both DRG neurons and Schwann cells are poorly understood, we have determined these important paradigms in the two cell models. Results of our on-going studies show that both cultured DRG neurons and Schwann cells express detectable levels of ERK and p-ERK, which are signaling proteins important in regulating cell survival/proliferation. Moreover, exposure of the two PNS neural cell types to SiO2 nanoparticles (1, 25, 50 μg/mL) for 48 hours induced alterations in their expression of p-ERK. Other studies are in progress to further elucidate these interesting phenomena. Thus, our findings have functional and pathophysiological implications in cell survival signaling in PNS neural cells and in chemically-induced peripheral neuropathy.

Nuclear spins of phosphorus [P] donor atoms in crystalline silicon are promising qubit candidates, but utilizing these systems for scalable quantum devices will require the ability to probe individual donors on atomic length scales and address these systems by application of well-controlled electric fields. Silicon Dioxide interface, observing charge flow through individual pairs of P donors and highly localized (?-range) silicon dangling bond states. The experiments were conducted with neutral P donor states using a low-temperature (T = 4.3K) ultra-high vacuum scanning probe microscope with a quartz tuning fork sensor that allows simultaneous AFM and local current measurements in complete darkness. This so called conduction-atomic force microscopy experiment yields images of the dangling bond states coupled to individual phosphorus donors. I-V responses on these isolated highly localized charge percolation paths further support the hypothesis that individual P-donor - Pb states are being addressed, and that spin-states may be probed using spin-dependent charge-carrier recombination current between 31P and the interface defects. 



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