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Hendra virus (HeV) continues to cause fatal infection in horses and threaten infection in close-contact humans in eastern Australia. Species of Pteropus bats (flying-foxes) are the natural reservoir of the virus. We caught and sampled flying-foxes from a multispecies roost in southeast Queensland, Australia on eight occasions between June 2013 and June 2014. The effects of sample date, species, sex, age class, body condition score (BCS), pregnancy and lactation on HeV antibody prevalence, log-transformed median fluorescent intensity (lnMFI) values and HeV RNA status were assessed using unbalanced generalised linear models. A total of 1968 flying-foxes were sampled, comprising 1012 Pteropus alecto, 742 P. poliocephalus and 214 P. scapulatus. Sample date, species and age class were each statistically associated with HeV RNA status, antibody status and lnMFI values; BCS was statistically associated with HeV RNA status and antibody status. The findings support immunologically naïve sub-adult P. alecto playing an important role in maintaining HeV infection at a population level. The biological significance of the association between BCS and HeV RNA status, and BCS and HeV antibody status, is less clear and warrants further investigation. Contrary to previous studies, we found no direct association between HeV infection and pregnancy or lactation. The findings in P. poliocephalus suggest that HeV exposure in this species may not result in systemic infection and virus excretion, or alternatively, may reflect assay cross-reactivity with another (unidentified) henipavirus.
Compulsory admission is commonly regarded as necessary and justified for patients whose psychiatric condition represents a severe danger to themselves and others. However, while studies on compulsory admissions have reported on various clinical and social outcomes, little research has focused specifically on dangerousness, which in many countries is the core reason for compulsory admission.
To study changes in dangerousness over time in adult psychiatric patients admitted by compulsory court order, and to relate these changes to these patients' demographic and clinical characteristics.
In this explorative prospective observational cohort study of adult psychiatric patients admitted by compulsory court order, demographic and clinical data were collected at baseline. At baseline and at 6 and 12 month follow-up, dangerousness was assessed using the Dangerousness Inventory, an instrument based on the eight types of dangerousness towards self or others specified in Dutch legislation on compulsory admissions. We used descriptive statistics and logistic regression to analyse the data.
We included 174 participants with a court-ordered compulsory admission. At baseline, the most common dangerousness criterion was inability to cope in society. Any type of severe or very severe dangerousness decreased from 86.2% at baseline to 36.2% at 6 months and to 28.7% at 12 months. Being homeless at baseline was the only variable which was significantly associated with persistently high levels of dangerousness.
Dangerousness decreased in about two-thirds of the patients after court-ordered compulsory admission. It persisted, however, in a substantial minority (approximately one-third).
We study the resistive evolution of a localized self-organizing magnetohydrodynamic equilibrium. In this configuration the magnetic forces are balanced by a pressure force caused by a toroidal depression in the pressure. Equilibrium is attained when this low-pressure region prevents further expansion into the higher-pressure external plasma. We find that, for the parameters investigated, the resistive evolution of the structures follows a universal pattern when rescaled to resistive time. The finite resistivity causes both a decrease in the magnetic field strength and a finite slip of the plasma fluid against the static equilibrium. This slip is caused by a Pfirsch–Schlüter-type diffusion, similar to what is seen in tokamak equilibria. The net effect is that the configuration remains in magnetostatic equilibrium whilst it slowly grows in size. The rotational transform of the structure becomes nearly constant throughout the entire structure, and decreases according to a power law. In simulations this equilibrium is observed when highly tangled field lines relax in a high-pressure (relative to the magnetic field strength) environment, a situation that occurs when the twisted field of a coronal loop is ejected into the interplanetary solar wind. In this paper we relate this localized magnetohydrodynamic equilibrium to magnetic clouds in the solar wind.
As depression has a recurrent course, relapse and recurrence prevention is essential.
In our randomised controlled trial (registered with the Nederlands trial register, identifier: NTR1907), we found that adding preventive cognitive therapy (PCT) to maintenance antidepressants (PCT+AD) yielded substantial protective effects versus antidepressants only in individuals with recurrent depression. Antidepressants were not superior to PCT while tapering antidepressants (PCT/−AD). To inform decision-makers on treatment allocation, we present the corresponding cost-effectiveness, cost-utility and budget impact.
Data were analysed (n = 289) using a societal perspective with 24-months of follow-up, with depression-free days and quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) as health outcomes. Incremental cost-effectiveness ratios were calculated and cost-effectiveness planes and cost-effectiveness acceptability curves were derived to provide information about cost-effectiveness. The budget impact was examined with a health economic simulation model.
Mean total costs over 24 months were €6814, €10 264 and €13 282 for AD+PCT, antidepressants only and PCT/−AD, respectively. Compared with antidepressants only, PCT+AD resulted in significant improvements in depression-free days but not QALYs. Health gains did not significantly favour antidepressants only versus PCT/−AD. High probabilities were found that PCT+AD versus antidepressants only and antidepressants only versus PCT/−AD were dominant with low willingness-to-pay thresholds. The budget impact analysis showed decreased societal costs for PCT+AD versus antidepressants only and for antidepressants only versus PCT/−AD.
Adding PCT to antidepressants is cost-effective over 24 months and PCT with guided tapering of antidepressants in long-term users might result in extra costs. Future studies examining costs and effects of antidepressants versus psychological interventions over a longer period may identify a break-even point where PCT/−AD will become cost-effective.
Declaration of interest
C.L.H.B. is co-editor of PLOS One and receives no honorarium for this role. She is also co-developer of the Dutch multidisciplinary clinical guideline for anxiety and depression, for which she receives no remuneration. She is a member of the scientific advisory board of the National Insure Institute, for which she receives an honorarium, although this role has no direct relation to this study. C.L.H.B. has presented keynote addresses at conferences, such as the European Psychiatry Association and the European Conference Association, for which she sometimes receives an honorarium. She has presented clinical training workshops, some including a fee. She receives royalties from her books and co-edited books and she developed preventive cognitive therapy on the basis of the cognitive model of A. T. Beck. W.A.N. has received grants from the Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and Development and the European Union and honoraria and speakers' fees from Lundbeck and Aristo Pharma, and has served as a consultant for Daleco Pharma.
Impaired metacognition is associated with difficulties in the daily functioning of people with psychosis. Metacognition can be divided into four domains: Self-Reflection, Understanding the Other's Mind, Decentration, and Mastery. This study investigated whether Metacognitive Reflection and Insight Therapy (MERIT) can be used to improve metacognition.
This study is a randomized controlled trial. Patients in the active condition (n = 35) received forty MERIT sessions, the control group (n = 35) received treatment as usual. Multilevel intention-to-treat and completers analyses were performed for metacognition and secondary outcomes (psychotic symptomatology, cognitive insight, Theory of Mind, empathy, depression, self-stigma, quality of life, social functioning, and work readiness).
Eighteen out of 35 participants finished treatment, half the drop-out stemmed from therapist attrition (N = 5) or before the first session (N = 4). Intention-to-treat analysis demonstrated that in both groups metacognition improved between pre- and post-measurements, with no significant differences between the groups. Patients who received MERIT continued to improve, while the control group returned to baseline, leading to significant differences at follow-up. Completers analysis (18/35) showed improvements on the Metacognition Assessment Scale (MAS-A) scales Self Reflectivity and metacognitive Mastery at follow-up. No effects were found on secondary outcomes.
On average, participants in the MERIT group were, based on MAS-A scores, at follow-up more likely to recognize their thoughts as changeable rather than as facts. MERIT might be useful for patients whose self-reflection is too limited to benefit from other therapies. Given how no changes were found in secondary measures, further research is needed. Limitations and suggestions for future research are discussed.
A substantial proportion of persons with mental disorders seek treatment from complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) professionals. However, data on how CAM contacts vary across countries, mental disorders and their severity, and health care settings is largely lacking. The aim was therefore to investigate the prevalence of contacts with CAM providers in a large cross-national sample of persons with 12-month mental disorders.
In the World Mental Health Surveys, the Composite International Diagnostic Interview was administered to determine the presence of past 12 month mental disorders in 138 801 participants aged 18–100 derived from representative general population samples. Participants were recruited between 2001 and 2012. Rates of self-reported CAM contacts for each of the 28 surveys across 25 countries and 12 mental disorder groups were calculated for all persons with past 12-month mental disorders. Mental disorders were grouped into mood disorders, anxiety disorders or behavioural disorders, and further divided by severity levels. Satisfaction with conventional care was also compared with CAM contact satisfaction.
An estimated 3.6% (standard error 0.2%) of persons with a past 12-month mental disorder reported a CAM contact, which was two times higher in high-income countries (4.6%; standard error 0.3%) than in low- and middle-income countries (2.3%; standard error 0.2%). CAM contacts were largely comparable for different disorder types, but particularly high in persons receiving conventional care (8.6–17.8%). CAM contacts increased with increasing mental disorder severity. Among persons receiving specialist mental health care, CAM contacts were reported by 14.0% for severe mood disorders, 16.2% for severe anxiety disorders and 22.5% for severe behavioural disorders. Satisfaction with care was comparable with respect to CAM contacts (78.3%) and conventional care (75.6%) in persons that received both.
CAM contacts are common in persons with severe mental disorders, in high-income countries, and in persons receiving conventional care. Our findings support the notion of CAM as largely complementary but are in contrast to suggestions that this concerns person with only mild, transient complaints. There was no indication that persons were less satisfied by CAM visits than by receiving conventional care. We encourage health care professionals in conventional settings to openly discuss the care patients are receiving, whether conventional or not, and their reasons for doing so.
Research suggests that in environments where community conflict and violence are chronic or cyclical, caregiving can impact how children may begin to reproduce violence throughout the various stages of their lives. The aim of this study is to understand how caregiving affects processes of reproducing violence and resilience among children in conflict-affected Burundi.
We combined a socio-ecological model of child development with a child-actor perspective. We operationalized the core concepts ‘vulnerable household’, ‘resilience’, and ‘caregiving’ iteratively in culturally relevant ways, and put children's experiences at the center of the inquiry. We carried out a comparative case study among 74 purposively sampled vulnerable households in six collines in three communes in three provinces in the interior of Burundi. Burundian field researchers conducted three consecutive interviews; with the head of the household, the main caregiver, and a child.
Our findings reveal a strong congruence between positive caregiving and resilience among children. Negative caregiving was related to negative social behavior among children. Other resources for resilience appeared to be limited. The overall level of household conditions and embedment in communities attested to a generalized fragile ecological environment.
In conflict-affected socio-ecological environments, caregiving can impact children's functioning and their role in reproducing violence. Interventions that support caregivers in positive caregiving are promising for breaking cyclical violence.
Although specific phobia is highly prevalent, associated with impairment, and an important risk factor for the development of other mental disorders, cross-national epidemiological data are scarce, especially from low- and middle-income countries. This paper presents epidemiological data from 22 low-, lower-middle-, upper-middle- and high-income countries.
Data came from 25 representative population-based surveys conducted in 22 countries (2001–2011) as part of the World Health Organization World Mental Health Surveys initiative (n = 124 902). The presence of specific phobia as defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fourth edition was evaluated using the World Health Organization Composite International Diagnostic Interview.
The cross-national lifetime and 12-month prevalence rates of specific phobia were, respectively, 7.4% and 5.5%, being higher in females (9.8 and 7.7%) than in males (4.9% and 3.3%) and higher in high- and higher-middle-income countries than in low-/lower-middle-income countries. The median age of onset was young (8 years). Of the 12-month patients, 18.7% reported severe role impairment (13.3–21.9% across income groups) and 23.1% reported any treatment (9.6–30.1% across income groups). Lifetime co-morbidity was observed in 60.5% of those with lifetime specific phobia, with the onset of specific phobia preceding the other disorder in most cases (72.6%). Interestingly, rates of impairment, treatment use and co-morbidity increased with the number of fear subtypes.
Specific phobia is common and associated with impairment in a considerable percentage of cases. Importantly, specific phobia often precedes the onset of other mental disorders, making it a possible early-life indicator of psychopathology vulnerability.
Clinicians need guidance to address the heterogeneity of treatment responses of patients with major depressive disorder (MDD). While prediction schemes based on symptom clustering and biomarkers have so far not yielded results of sufficient strength to inform clinical decision-making, prediction schemes based on big data predictive analytic models might be more practically useful.
We review evidence suggesting that prediction equations based on symptoms and other easily-assessed clinical features found in previous research to predict MDD treatment outcomes might provide a foundation for developing predictive analytic clinical decision support models that could help clinicians select optimal (personalised) MDD treatments. These methods could also be useful in targeting patient subsamples for more expensive biomarker assessments.
Approximately two dozen baseline variables obtained from medical records or patient reports have been found repeatedly in MDD treatment trials to predict overall treatment outcomes (i.e., intervention v. control) or differential treatment outcomes (i.e., intervention A v. intervention B). Similar evidence has been found in observational studies of MDD persistence-severity. However, no treatment studies have yet attempted to develop treatment outcome equations using the full set of these predictors. Promising preliminary empirical results coupled with recent developments in statistical methodology suggest that models could be developed to provide useful clinical decision support in personalised treatment selection. These tools could also provide a strong foundation to increase statistical power in focused studies of biomarkers and MDD heterogeneity of treatment response in subsequent controlled trials.
Coordinated efforts are needed to develop a protocol for systematically collecting information about established predictors of heterogeneity of MDD treatment response in large observational treatment studies, applying and refining these models in subsequent pragmatic trials, carrying out pooled secondary analyses to extract the maximum amount of information from these coordinated studies, and using this information to focus future discovery efforts in the segment of the patient population in which continued uncertainty about treatment response exists.
Telomere attrition might be one of the mechanisms through which psychosocial stress leads to somatic disease. To date it is unknown if exposure to adverse life events in adulthood is associated with telomere shortening prospectively. In the current study we investigated whether life events are associated with shortening of telomere length (TL).
Participants were 1094 adults (mean age 53.1, range 33–79 years) from the PREVEND cohort. Data were collected at baseline (T1) and at two follow-up visits after 4 years (T2) and 6 years (T3). Life events were assessed with an adjusted version of the List of Threatening Events (LTE). TL was measured by monochrome multiplex quantitative PCR at T1, T2, and T3. A linear mixed model was used to assess the effect of recent life events on TL prospectively. Multivariable regression analyses were performed to assess whether the lifetime life events score or the score of life events experienced before the age of 12 predicted TL cross-sectionally. All final models were adjusted for age, sex, body mass index, presence of chronic diseases, frequency of sports, smoking status, and level of education.
Recent life events significantly predicted telomere attrition prospectively (B = −0.031, p = 0.007). We were not able to demonstrate a significant cross-sectional relationship between the lifetime LTE score and TL. Nor did we find exposure to adverse life events before the age of 12 to be associated with TL in adulthood.
Exposure to recent adverse life events in adulthood is associated with telomere attrition prospectively.
The in situ degradation of the washout fraction of starch in six feed ingredients (i.e. barley, faba beans, maize, oats, peas and wheat) was studied by using a modified in situ protocol and in vitro measurements. In comparison with the washing machine method, the modified protocol comprises a milder rinsing method to reduce particulate loss during rinsing. The modified method markedly reduced the average washout fraction of starch in these products from 0.333 to 0.042 g/g. Applying the modified rinsing method, the fractional degradation rate (kd) of starch in barley, oats and wheat decreased from on average 0.327 to 0.144 h−1 whereas for faba beans, peas and maize no differences in kd were observed compared with the traditional washing machine rinsing. For barley, maize and wheat, the difference in non-fermented starch in the residue between both rinsing methods during the first 4 h of incubation increased, which indicates secondary particle loss. The average effective degradation of starch decreased from 0.761 to 0.572 g/g when using the new rinsing method and to 0.494 g/g when applying a correction for particulate matter loss during incubation. The in vitro kd of starch in the non-washout fraction did not differ from that in the total product. The calculated ratio between the kd of starch in the washout and non-washout fraction was on average 1.59 and varied between 0.96 for oats and 2.39 for maize. The fractional rate of gas production was significantly different between the total product and the non-washout fraction. For all products, except oats, this rate of gas production was larger for the total product compared with the non-washout fraction whereas for oats the opposite was observed. The rate of increase in gas production was, especially for grains, strongly correlated with the in vitro kd of starch. The results of the present study do not support the assumption used in several feed evaluation systems that the degradation of the washout fraction of starch in the rumen is much faster than that of the non-washout fraction.
In the classic in situ method, small particles are removed during rinsing and hence their fractional degradation rate cannot be determined. A new approach was developed to estimate the fractional degradation rate of nutrients in small particles. This approach was based on an alternative rinsing method to reduce the particulate matter loss during rinsing and on quantifying the particulate matter loss that occurs during incubation in the rumen itself. To quantify particulate matter loss during incubation, loss of small particles during the in situ incubation was studied using undegradable silica with different particle sizes. Particulate matter loss during incubation was limited to particles smaller than ~40 μm with a mean fractional particulate matter loss rate of 0.035 h−1 (first experiment) and 0.073 h−1 (second experiment) and an undegradable fraction of 0.001 and 0.050, respectively. In the second experiment, the fractional particulate matter loss rate after rinsing in a water bath at 50 strokes per minute (s.p.m.) (0.215 h−1) and the undegradable fraction at 20 s.p.m. (0.461) were significantly larger than that upon incubation in the rumen, whereas the fractional particulate matter loss rate (0.140 and 0.087 h−1, respectively) and the undegradable fraction (0.330 and 0.075, respectively) after rinsing at 30 and 40 s.p.m. did not differ with that upon rumen incubation. This new approach was applied to estimate the in situ fractional degradation rate of insoluble organic matter (OM) and insoluble nitrogen (N) in three different wheat yeast concentrates (WYC). These WYC were characterised by a high fraction of small particles and estimating their fractional degradation rate was not possible using the traditional washing machine rinsing method. The new rinsing method increased the mean non-washout fraction of OM and N in these products from 0.113 and 0.084 (washing machine method) to 0.670 and 0.782, respectively. The mean effective degradation (ED) without correction for particulate matter loss of OM and of N was 0.714 and 0.601, respectively, and significant differences were observed between the WYC products. Applying the correction for particulate matter loss reduced the mean ED of OM to 0.676 (30 s.p.m.) and 0.477 (40 s.p.m.), and reduced the mean ED of N to 0.475 (30 s.p.m.) and 0.328 (40 s.p.m.). These marked reductions in fractional degradation rate upon correction for small particulate matter loss emphasised the pronounced effect of correction for undegraded particulate matter loss on the fractional disappearance rates of OM and N in WYC products.
The association between depression after myocardial infarction and increased risk of mortality and cardiac morbidity may be due to cardiac disease severity.
To combine original data from studies on the association between post-infarction depression and prognosis into one database, and to investigate to what extent such depression predicts prognosis independently of disease severity.
An individual patient data meta-analysis of studies was conducted using multilevel, multivariable Cox regression analyses.
Sixteen studies participated, creating a database of 10 175 post-infarction cases. Hazard ratios for post-infarction depression were 1.32 (95% CI 1.26–1.38, P<0.001) for all-cause mortality and 1.19 (95% CI 1.14–1.24, P<0.001) for cardiovascular events. Hazard ratios adjusted for disease severity were attenuated by 28% and 25% respectively.
The association between depression following myocardial infarction and prognosis is attenuated after adjustment for cardiac disease severity. Still, depression remains independently associated with prognosis, with a 22% increased risk of all-cause mortality and a 13% increased risk of cardiovascular events per standard deviation in depression z-score.
Suboptimal maternal dietary intake during pregnancy might lead to fetal cardiovascular adaptations and higher blood pressure in the offspring. The aim of the present study was to investigate the associations of maternal first-trimester dietary intake with blood pressure in children at the age of 6 years. We assessed first-trimester maternal daily dietary intake by a FFQ and measured folate, homocysteine and vitamin B12 concentrations in the blood, in a population-based prospective cohort study among 2863 mothers and children. Childhood systolic and diastolic blood pressure was measured using a validated automatic sphygmomanometer. First-trimester maternal daily intake of energy, fat, protein and carbohydrate was not associated with childhood blood pressure. Furthermore, maternal intake of micronutrients was not associated with childhood blood pressure. Also, higher maternal vitamin B12 concentrations were associated with a higher diastolic blood pressure (0·31 mmHg per standard deviation increase in vitamin B12 (95 % CI 0·06, 0·56)). After taking into account multiple testing, none of the associations was statistically significant. Maternal first-trimester folate and homocysteine concentrations were not associated with childhood blood pressure. The results from the present study suggest that maternal Fe intake and vitamin B12 concentrations during the first trimester of pregnancy might affect childhood blood pressure, although the effect estimates were small and were not significant after correction for multiple testing. Further studies are needed to replicate these findings, to elucidate the underlying mechanisms and to assess whether these differences in blood pressure persist in later life.
A modified rinsing method for the in situ technique was developed to separate, isolate and characterise the soluble (S), the insoluble washout (W–S) and the non-washout fractions (D + U) within one procedure. For non-incubated bags (t = 0 h), this method was compared with the conventional, Combined Fractionation (CF) method that measures the D + U and S fractions in separate steps and subsequently calculates the W–S fraction. The modified method was based on rinsing of nylon bags in a closed vessel containing a buffer solution (pH 6.2) during 1 h, where shaking speeds of 40, 100, and 160 strokes per minutes (spm) were evaluated, and tested for six feed ingredients (faba beans, maize, oats, peas, soya beans and wheat) and four forages (two ryegrass silages and two maize silages). The average recoveries as the sum of all fractions were 0.972 ± 0.041 for N and 0.990 ± 0.050 for starch (mean ± s.d.). The mean W–S fraction increased with increasing shaking speed and varied between 0.017 (N) and 0.083 (starch) at 40 spm and 0.078 (N) and 0.303 (starch) at 160 spm, respectively. For ryegrass silages, the W–S fraction was absent at all shaking speeds, but was present in the CF method. The modified method, in particular at 40 and 100 spm, reduced the loss of small particles during rinsing, resulting in lower W–S and higher D + U fractions for N and starch compared with the CF method. For soya beans and ryegrass silage, the modified method reduced the S fraction of N compared with the CF method. The results obtained at 160 spm showed the best comparison with those from the CF method. The W–S fraction of the feedstuff obtained at 160 spm contained mainly particles smaller than 40 μm (0.908 ± 0.086). In most feedstuff, starch was the most abundant chemical component in the W–S fraction and its content (726 ± 75 g/kg DM) was higher than in the D + U fraction (405 ± 177 g/kg DM). Alkaline-soluble proteins were the dominant N-containing components in the W–S fraction of dry feed ingredients and its relative content (0.79 ± 0.18 of total N in W–S) was higher than in the D + U fraction (0.59 ± 0.07 of total N in D + U) for all feedstuff except maize. The molecular weight distribution of the alkaline-soluble proteins differed between the W–S and the D + U fractions of all dry feed ingredients, except soya beans and wheat.
Current trends in population aging affect both recipients and providers of informal family caregiving, as the pool of family caregivers is shrinking while demand is increasing. Epidemiological research has not yet examined the implications of these trends for burdens experienced by aging family caregivers.
Cross-sectional community surveys in 20 countries asked 13 892 respondents aged 50+ years about the objective (time, financial) and subjective (distress, embarrassment) burdens they experience in providing care to first-degree relatives with 12 broadly defined serious physical and mental conditions. Differential burden was examined by country income category, kinship status and type of condition.
Among the 26.9–42.5% respondents in high-, upper-middle-, and low-/lower-middle-income countries reporting serious relative health conditions, 35.7–42.5% reported burden. Of those, 25.2–29.0% spent time and 13.5–19.4% money, while 24.4–30.6% felt distress and 6.4–21.7% embarrassment. Mean caregiving hours per week in those giving any time were 16.6–23.6 (169.9–205.8 h/week per 100 people aged 50+ years). Burden in low-/lower-middle-income countries was 2- to 3-fold higher than in higher-income countries, with any financial burden averaging 14.3% of median family income in high-, 17.7% in upper-middle-, and 39.8% in low-/lower-middle-income countries. Higher burden was reported by women than men and for conditions of spouses and children than parents or siblings.
Uncompensated family caregiving is an important societal asset that offsets rising formal healthcare costs. However, the substantial burdens experienced by aging caregivers across multiple family health conditions and geographic regions threaten the continued integrity of their caregiving capacity. Initiatives supporting older family caregivers are consequently needed, especially in low-/lower-middle-income countries.
Low temperature magnetization measurements of individual ferromagnetic particles and wires are presented (0.1 < T(K) < 6). The detector was a Nb micro-bridge-DC-SQUID, fabricated using electron-beam lithography. The angular dependence of the switching field could be explained approximatively by simple classical micromagnetic concepts (uniform rotation, curling…). However, dynamical measurements evidenced nucleation and propagation of domain walls, except for the smallest particles of about 20 nm. The variation of the mean switching field distribution (as a function of temperature and field sweeping rate) and of the probabilities of switching (as a function of temperature and the applied field) allowed to study in details the dynamics of magnetization reversal of individual particles. For sub-micron particles, we found that above a crossover temperature of 1K, the mean switching field and the switching probability follow a thermally activated model. For temperatures below IK, the dynamics of magnetization reversal becomes temperature independent which is interpreted in terms of deviations from the Néel-Brown model of magnetization reversal due to surface roughness and oxidazation. Although this crossovei temperature is much too large to be interpreted with current models of quantum tunneling, such an effect cannot be excluded. Measurements performed on ferromagnetic nanoparticles of good quality (single crystalline and with a diameter smaller than 25 nm), allowed us to show for the first time that the magnetization reversal can be described by thermal activation over the anisotropy energy barrier, as originally proposed by Néel. The observation of telegraph noise strengthens these results. Our measurements open the door to the observation of macroscopic quantum tunneling oí the magnetization in an individual particle containing 103-105 spins.
Different phases of FeN thin films and Fe/FeN multilayers were prepared by reactive rf sputtering. The release of nitrogen and the crystallographic transformations during annealing were monitored by thermal desorption spectrometry and X-ray diffraction experiments. Finally, the diffusivity of nitrogen in the γ-Fe4N phase was evaluated.
The <Atomic Saw> method has been successfully used to cut a Fe thin film, epitaxially grown onto a (001) MgO substrate, into stripes (widths ranging from 1 μm to 100 nm) and boxes (lateral sizes ranging from 1 μm to 3 μm). A structural analysis of these magnetic structures by atomic force microscopy has shown that their geometries are controlled by the plastic strain. A magnetooptical study of the Fe stripes has revealed a surprising uniaxial magnetic anisotropy with an in-plane easy axis perpendicular to the stripes. This strong anisotropy can be explained by an anisotropie relaxation of the misfit between the starting Fe film and the MgO substrate, induced by the cutting into stripes. Magnetooptical experiments on boxes have revealed that the initial cubic symmetry is recovered since, in this case, the relaxation is similar in perpendicular directions. They have also proved that their magnetization reversal is governed by nucleation phenomena.