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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 1, 2024
  2. The ability of cells to reorganize in response to external stimuli is important in areas ranging from morphogenesis to tissue engineering. While nematic order is common in biological tissues, it typically only extends to small regions of cells interacting via steric repulsion. On isotropic substrates, elongated cells can co-align due to steric effects, forming ordered but randomly oriented finite-size domains. However, we have discovered that flat substrates with nematic order can induce global nematic alignment of dense, spindle-like cells, thereby influencing cell organization and collective motion and driving alignment on the scale of the entire tissue. Remarkably, single cells are not sensitive to the substrate’s anisotropy. Rather, the emergence of global nematic order is a collective phenomenon that requires both steric effects and molecular-scale anisotropy of the substrate. To quantify the rich set of behaviours afforded by this system, we analyse velocity, positional and orientational correlations for several thousand cells over days. The establishment of global order is facilitated by enhanced cell division along the substrate’s nematic axis, and associated extensile stresses that restructure the cells’ actomyosin networks. Our work provides a new understanding of the dynamics of cellular remodelling and organization among weakly interacting cells.

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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 1, 2024
  3. This paper reports a phenomenon occurring between phase change material (PCM) germanium telluride (GeTe) and a thin encapsulation layer of alumina when the PCM undergoes the phase transformation, consistent with dewetting of the PCM from the surrounding alumina. Massive structural change, including formation of large voids, which take up to 21.9% of the initial GeTe volume after 10 000 phase change cycles is observed. Electrical and mechanical characterization of the structure confirms this interpretation. A rapid thermal annealing test of blanket films on alumina that demonstrates dewetting further validates this conjecture. The dewetting and associated gross material displacement can lead to an extraordinary actuation corresponding to a one-time 44 nm height change for a 178 nm GeTe thick layer. However, control of this phenomenon is required to build reliable actuators that do not suffer from rupture of the encapsulation layer. 
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  4. A statistical emulator can be used as a surrogate of complex physics-based calculations to drastically reduce the computational cost. Its successful implementation hinges on an accurate representation of the nonlinear response surface with a high-dimensional input space. Conventional “space-filling” designs, including random sampling and Latin hypercube sampling, become inefficient as the dimensionality of the input variables increases, and the predictive accuracy of the emulator can degrade substantially for a test input distant from the training input set. To address this fundamental challenge, we develop a reliable emulator for predicting complex functionals by active learning with error control (ALEC). The algorithm is applicable to infinite-dimensional mapping with high-fidelity predictions and a controlled predictive error. The computational efficiency has been demonstrated by emulating the classical density functional theory (cDFT) calculations, a statistical-mechanical method widely used in modeling the equilibrium properties of complex molecular systems. We show that ALEC is much more accurate than conventional emulators based on the Gaussian processes with “space-filling” designs and alternative active learning methods. In addition, it is computationally more efficient than direct cDFT calculations. ALEC can be a reliable building block for emulating expensive functionals owing to its minimal computational cost, controllable predictive error, and fully automatic features. 
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  5. Marginalization of latent variables or nuisance parameters is a fundamental aspect of Bayesian inference and uncertainty quantification. In this work, we focus on scalable marginalization of latent variables in modeling correlated data, such as spatio-temporal or functional observations. We first introduce Gaussian processes (GPs) for modeling correlated data and highlight the computational challenge, where the computational complexity increases cubically fast along with the number of observations. We then review the connection between the state space model and GPs with Matérn covariance for temporal inputs. The Kalman filter and Rauch-Tung-Striebel smoother were introduced as a scalable marginalization technique for computing the likelihood and making predictions of GPs without approximation. We introduce recent efforts on extending the scalable marginalization idea to the linear model of coregionalization for multivariate correlated output and spatio-temporal observations. In the final part of this work, we introduce a novel marginalization technique to estimate interaction kernels and forecast particle trajectories. The computational progress lies in the sparse representation of the inverse covariance matrix of the latent variables, then applying conjugate gradient for improving predictive accuracy with large data sets. The computational advances achieved in this work outline a wide range of applications in molecular dynamic simulation, cellular migration, and agent-based models. 
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