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Ijspeert A.J.,Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne

The graceful and agile movements of animals are difficult to analyze and emulate because locomotion is the result of a complex interplay of many components: The central and peripheral nervous systems, the musculoskeletal system, and the environment. The goals of biorobotics are to take inspiration from biological principles to design robots that match the agility of animals, and to use robots as scientific tools to investigate animal adaptive behavior. Used as physical models, biorobots contribute to hypothesis testing in fields such as hydrodynamics, biomechanics, neuroscience, and prosthetics. Their use may contribute to the design of prosthetic devices that more closely take human locomotion principles into account. © 2014 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science; all rights reserved. Source

Gonczy P.,Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne
Nature Reviews Molecular Cell Biology

The centriole is an evolutionarily conserved macromolecular structure that is crucial for the formation of flagella, cilia and centrosomes. The ultrastructure of the centriole was first characterized decades ago with the advent of electron microscopy, revealing a striking ninefold radial arrangement of microtubules. However, it is only recently that the molecular mechanisms governing centriole assembly have begun to emerge, including the elucidation of the crucial role of spindle assembly abnormal 6 (SAS-6) proteins in imparting the ninefold symmetry. These advances have brought the field to an exciting era in which architecture meets function. © 2012 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved. Source

Brisken C.,Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne
Nature Reviews Cancer

Understanding the biology of the breast and how ovarian hormones impinge on it is key to rational new approaches in breast cancer prevention and therapy. Because of the success of selective oestrogen receptor modulators (SERMs), such as tamoxifen, and aromatase inhibitors in breast cancer treatment, oestrogens have long received the most attention. Early progesterone receptor (PR) antagonists, however, were dismissed because of severe side effects, but awareness is now increasing that progesterone is an important hormone in breast cancer. Oestrogen receptor-α (ERα) signalling and PR signalling have distinct roles in normal mammary gland biology in mice; both ERα and PR delegate many of their biological functions to distinct paracrine mediators. If the findings in the mouse model translate to humans, new preventive and therapeutic perspectives might open up. © 2013 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved. Source

Petersen C.C.H.,Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne
Annual Review of Neuroscience

Facial muscles drive whisker movements, which are important for active tactile sensory perception in mice and rats. These whisker muscles are innervated by cholinergic motor neurons located in the lateral facial nucleus. The whisker motor neurons receive synaptic inputs from premotor neurons, which are located within the brain stem, the midbrain, and the neocortex. Complex, distributed neural circuits therefore regulate whisker movement during behavior. This review focuses specifically on cortical whisker motor control. The whisker primary motor cortex (M1) strongly innervates brain stem reticular nuclei containing whisker premotor neurons, which might form a central pattern generator for rhythmic whisker protraction. In a parallel analogous pathway, the whisker primary somatosensory cortex (S1) strongly projects to the brain stem spinal trigeminal interpolaris nucleus, which contains whisker premotor neurons innervating muscles for whisker retraction. These anatomical pathways may play important functional roles, since stimulation of M1 drives exploratory rhythmic whisking, whereas stimulation of S1 drives whisker retraction. © Copyright ©2014 by Annual Reviews. All rights reserved. Source

Yazyev O.V.,Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne
Accounts of Chemical Research

Graphene nanoribbons (GNRs) are one-dimensional nanostructures predicted to display a rich variety of electronic behaviors. Depending on their structure, GNRs realize metallic and semiconducting electronic structures with band gaps that can be tuned across broad ranges. Certain GNRs also exhibit a peculiar gapped magnetic phase for which the half-metallic state can be induced as well as the topologically nontrivial quantum spin Hall electronic phase. Because their electronic properties are highly tunable, GNRs have quickly become a popular subject of research toward the design of graphene-based nanostructures for technological applications. This Account presents a pedagogical overview of the various degrees of freedom in the atomic structure and interactions that researchers can use to tailor the electronic structure of these materials. The Account provides a broad picture of relevant physical concepts that would facilitate the rational design of GNRs with desired electronic properties through synthetic techniques.We start by discussing a generic model of zigzag GNR within the tight-binding model framework. We then explain how different modifications and extensions of the basic model affect the electronic band structures of GNRs. We classify the modifications based on the following categories: (1) electron-electron and spin-orbit interactions, (2) GNR configuration, which includes width and the crystallographic orientation of the nanoribbon (chirality), and (3) the local structure of the edge. We subdivide this last category into two groups: the effects of the termination of the π-electron system and the variations of electrostatic potential at the edge. This overview of the structure-property relationships provides a view of the many different electronic properties that GNRs can realize.The second part of this Account reviews three recent experimental methods for the synthesis of structurally well-defined GNRs. We describe a family of techniques that use patterning and etching of graphene and graphite to produce GNRs. Chemical unzipping of carbon nanotubes also provides a route toward producing chiral GNRs with atomically smooth edges. Scanning tunneling microscopy/spectroscopy investigations of these unzipped GNRs have revealed edge states and strongly suggest that these GNRs are magnetic. The third approach exploits the surface-assisted self-assembly of GNRs from molecular precursors. This powerful method can provide full control over the atomic structure of narrow nanoribbons and could eventually produce more complex graphene nanostructures. © 2013 American Chemical Society. Source

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