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The search for life in the Universe is a fundamental problem of astrobiology and modern science. The current progress in the detection of terrestrial-type exoplanets has opened a new avenue in the characterization of exoplanetary atmospheres and in the search for biosignatures of life with the upcoming ground-based and space missions. To specify the conditions favourable for the origin, development and sustainment of life as we know it in other worlds, we need to understand the nature of global (astrospheric), and local (atmospheric and surface) environments of exoplanets in the habitable zones (HZs) around G-K-M dwarf stars including our young Sun. Global environment is formed by propagated disturbances from the planet-hosting stars in the form of stellar flares, coronal mass ejections, energetic particles and winds collectively known as astrospheric space weather. Its characterization will help in understanding how an exoplanetary ecosystem interacts with its host star, as well as in the specification of the physical, chemical and biochemical conditions that can create favourable and/or detrimental conditions for planetary climate and habitability along with evolution of planetary internal dynamics over geological timescales. A key linkage of (astro)physical, chemical and geological processes can only be understood in the framework of interdisciplinary studies with the incorporation of progress in heliophysics, astrophysics, planetary and Earth sciences. The assessment of the impacts of host stars on the climate and habitability of terrestrial (exo)planets will significantly expand the current definition of the HZ to the biogenic zone and provide new observational strategies for searching for signatures of life. The major goal of this paper is to describe and discuss the current status and recent progress in this interdisciplinary field in light of presentations and discussions during the NASA Nexus for Exoplanetary System Science funded workshop ‘Exoplanetary Space Weather, Climate and Habitability’ and to provide a new roadmap for the future development of the emerging field of exoplanetary science and astrobiology.
The seasonality of individual influenza subtypes/lineages and the association of influenza epidemics with meteorological factors in the tropics/subtropics have not been well understood. The impact of the 2009 H1N1 pandemic on the prevalence of seasonal influenza virus remains to be explored. Using wavelet analysis, the periodicities of A/H3N2, seasonal A/H1N1, A/H1N1pdm09, Victoria and Yamagata were identified, respectively, in Panzhihua during 2006–2015. As a subtropical city in southwestern China, Panzhihua is the first industrial city in the upper reaches of the Yangtze River. The relationship between influenza epidemics and local climatic variables was examined based on regression models. The temporal distribution of influenza subtypes/lineages during the pre-pandemic (2006–2009), pandemic (2009) and post-pandemic (2010–2015) years was described and compared. A total of 6892 respiratory specimens were collected and 737 influenza viruses were isolated. A/H3N2 showed an annual cycle with a peak in summer–autumn, while A/H1N1pdm09, Victoria and Yamagata exhibited an annual cycle with a peak in winter–spring. Regression analyses demonstrated that relative humidity was positively associated with A/H3N2 activity while negatively associated with Victoria activity. Higher prevalence of A/H1N1pdm09 and Yamagata was driven by lower absolute humidity. The role of weather conditions in regulating influenza epidemics could be complicated since the diverse viral transmission modes and mechanism. Differences in seasonality and different associations with meteorological factors by influenza subtypes/lineages should be considered in epidemiological studies in the tropics/subtropics. The development of subtype- and lineage-specific prevention and control measures is of significant importance.
We study hydrogenated amorphous silicon germanium (a-SiGe:H) deposited by HWCVD for the use as low band gap absorber in multijunction junction solar cells. We deposited layers with Tauc optical band gaps of 1.21 to 1.56 eV and studied the hydrogen bonding with FTIR for layers that were deposited at several reaction pressures. For our reaction conditions, we found an optimal reaction pressure of 38 µbar. The material that is obtained under these conditions does not meet all device quality requirements for a-SiGe:H, which is, as we hypothesize, caused by the presence of He that is used to dilute the GeH4 source gas. We present an initial single junction n-i-p solar cell with a Tauc optical band gap of 1.45 eV and a short circuit current density of 18.7 mA/cm2.
The Krieger-Dougherty equation allows calculation of viscosity as a function of volume fraction for suspensions of noninteracting particles. For model suspensions (of spherical, monosized particles), it has been shown to provide excellent agreement between calculated and measured viscosities. In the present study, this equation was applied to portland cement pastes, also with good correlations between calculated and measured viscosities. Because cement has a broad particle size distribution and its particles are angular and elongated, the two constants in this equation (the maximum volume fraction and the intrinsic viscosity) were estimated using nonlinear optimization techniques. The equation provides an excellent fit to measured viscosity data. However, the nature of the equation makes the estimation somewhat difficult, and the solutions are not well-defined.
VO2 is a material with reversible thermo-chromic properties. The reversible phase transition of a strain-free single-crystalline VO2, at a transition temperature (Tt) 68°C, is accompanied with changes in crystal structure, optical and electrical properties. With different processing conditions during thin film deposition, different transmittance loops will be resulted upon thermal cycling. The residual stress of the thin films with poor crystallinity, as determined from X-ray diffractometry, is found to be an important factor responsible for the Tt that increases with increasing residual stress. Residual stress affects the hysteresis span of the transmittance loop. The relationship between residual stress of as-deposited VO2 films and the relative positions between vanadium and oxygen under the residual stress are also delineated.
In this work, the charge-trapping distributions of polysilicon-oxide-nitride-oxide-silicon (SONOS) structure are studied. The trapping energy level of SiNx films with different composition ratio deposited by low-pressure chemical vapor deposition (LPCVD) were first characterized by photoluminescence (PL) measurement. Moreover, using F-N/CHE program and charge pumping techniques, the vertical location and the lateral distribution of programmed charges are investigated in the nitride films with different composition ratio. The study offers strong evidence that the density of charge-trapping levels in the Si-rich nitride is higher than the standard nitride. A simple qualitative model and calculation explains that the trapping level distributions in the SiNx films are shallower by increasing relative Si-content. Furthermore, we have observed the nitride trap vertical location was changed by adjusted Si/N composition ratio. And the lateral distribution of hot electron programmed charges in the modified nitride is broader than that in the standard nitride because it offered more charge-trapping sites and shallower charge-trapping levels. In summary, the study can help researchers to understand the nitride charge-trapping mechanism and the analysis of optical/electrical characteristics.
AlGaN/GaN HFETs have demonstrated excellent RF performance, but the devices still suffer from a reliability problem. The decrease of the dc current and RF output power over time is attributed to gate tunneling which is determined by the magnitude of electric field at the gate edge. In this work, in order to improve the reliability of AlGaN/GaN HFETs, a 2D drift-diffusion tool is used to explore the relationship between the magnitude of electric field and different device structures through modifications of the 2DEG sheet charge density, AlGaN barrier layer thickness, AlGaN doping concentration and gate to drain spacing. The effect of field plates is also investigated. It was found that decreasing 2DEG sheet charge density results in much improved reliability, although the current and output power are somewhat reduced.
This paper presents the mechanical characterization of the elastic modulus, hardness and fracture toughness of silicon oxynitride films (SiON) with different oxygen and nitrogen content, subjected to thermal annealing processed at 400 °C and 800 °C. The Fourier-transform infrared (FT-IR) spectroscopy was employed to characterize the SiON films with respect to the absorbance peak in the infrared spectrum. The nanoindentation testing showed that both the elastic modulus and hardness slightly increased after thermal annealing. Finally, the fracture toughness of the SiON films were estimated using Vickers micro-indentation tests and the result revealed that the fracture toughness decreased with increasing rapid thermal annealing (RTA) temperature and nitrogen content. We believe these results benefit microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) in regards to maintaining the structural integrity and improving reliability performance.
In this work, thin ALD alumina films were fabricated for evaluating their capabilities as a barrier material for corrosive environments. The fracture toughness and the corrosion-resisting properties after fatigue cycle of these thin ALD alumina films have been characterized. Indentation tests indicate that the ALD alumina/Al structures could enhance both the yield strength of the metal and the effective fracture toughness of the coated ALD alumina films and this result could be useful for designing nanocomposite structures. However, the test results also indicate that the interfacial strength of the ALD/Al structures was prone to degrade under fatigue loading under corrosive environment. This could potentially be a problem for the long term reliability of related devices operated under a harsh environment. In addition, the strong correlation between indentation behavior and fatigue loading for the structure indicate that nanoindentation response could be possibly used to indicate the damage level of microstructures for future reliability evaluations.
Previous experiments had shown that microgravity adversely affected seed development in Brassica rapa L. We tested the hypothesis that gravity controls seed development via modulation of gases around the developing seeds, by studying how hypergravity affects the silique microenvironment and seed development. Using an in vitro silique maturation system, we sampled internal silique gases for 16 d late in the seed maturation sequence at 4 g or 1 g. The carbon dioxide level was significantly higher inside the 4-g siliques, and the immature seeds became heavier than those maturing at 1 g. Pollination and early embryo development were also studied by growing whole plants at 2 g or 4 g for 16 d inside chambers mounted on a large-diameter centrifuge. Each day the rotor was briefly stopped to permit manual pollination of flowers, thereby producing cohorts of same-aged siliques for comparison with stationary control material. The loss of starch and soluble carbohydrates during seed development was accelerated in hypergravity, with seeds developing at 4 g more advanced by 2 d than those at 1 g. Seeds produced at 4 g contained more lipid than those at 1 g. Taken together, these results indicate that hypergravity enhances gas availability to the developing embryos. Gravity's role in seed development is of importance to the space programme because of the plan to use plants for food production and habitat regeneration in extraterrestrial settings. These results are significant because they underscore the tight co-regulation of Brassica seed development and the atmosphere maintained inside the siliques.
It has long been known that maximum likelihood estimation in a Poisson model reproduces the chain-ladder technique. We revisit this model. A new canonical parametrisation is proposed to circumvent the inherent identification problem in the parametrisation. The maximum likelihood estimators for the canonical parameter are simple, interpretable and easy to derive. The boundary problem where all observations in one particular development year or on particular underwriting year is zero is also analysed.
We show that Bernoulli thinning of arbitrarily delayed renewal processes produces uncorrelated thinned processes if and only if the renewal process is Poisson. Multinomial thinning of point processes is studied. We show that if an arbitrarily delayed renewal process or a doubly stochastic Poisson process is subjected to multinomial thinning, the existence of a single pair of uncorrelated thinned processes is sufficient to ensure that the renewal process is Poisson and the double stochastic Poisson process is at most a non-homogeneous Poisson process. We also show that a two-state Markov chain thinning of an arbitrarily delayed renewal process produces, under certain conditions, uncorrelated thinned processes if and only if the renewal process is Poisson and the Markov chain is a Bernoulli process. Finally, we identify conditions under which dependent point processes superpose to form a renewal process.
The draining of a fluid layer between rigid plane parallel boundaries under a constant normal force is considered. In Part 1 the effect of fluid inertia was considered in the inviscid and low- but finite-Reynolds-number limits along with the inertia of the moving body; in Part 2, we consider the case of negligible inertia of the moving body. We develop an approximate large-Reynolds-number solution, valid until the boundary layers of the rigid surfaces begin to overlap, and present a new exact solution of the full Navier–Stokes equations for a time-dependent double-axisymmetric stagnation-point flow. These solutions exhibit interesting new features that illustrate the coupling of a time-dependent inviscid core flow with the growth of an unsteady boundary layer started from rest and the effect of Reynolds number on the merging of the boundary layers at large time.
The draining of thin fluid layers between rigid or deformable surfaces has been extensively studied in the limit of thin films where inertial effects are of negligible importance. In the present investigation, which is in two parts, we shall examine the inertial draining of a thin fluid layer between planar parallel surfaces under the action of a constant normal force. This is a simple model for dropping a sheet of paper or a book on a table or applying a piston to a microchip. The novelty of the problem is that we shall consider both the inertia of the object and that of the fluid for all Reynolds numbers where the flow remains laminar. In Part 1 of the study we shall derive a simplified Navier–Stokes equation for the general case which contains the dynamic equation for the motion of the object. Solutions will be presented for the time-dependent motion of the object and the intervening fluid in the gap for all ratios of object to fluid inertia in the limit of infinite Reynolds number and for small Reynolds numbers (Re < 10) in the limit where the time rate of change of momentum of the object is small compared with that of the fluid in the gap. In Part 2, we shall examine the limit where time-dependent boundary layers develop along the top and bottom surfaces in response to the time-varying core flow and also present a new exact Navier–Stokes solution for a time-dependent double-axisymmetric stagnation-point flow.
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