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  1. Abstract

    Cortical state, defined by population-level neuronal activity patterns, determines sensory perception. While arousal-associated neuromodulators—including norepinephrine (NE)—reduce cortical synchrony, how the cortex resynchronizes remains unknown. Furthermore, general mechanisms regulating cortical synchrony in the wake state are poorly understood. Using in vivo imaging and electrophysiology in mouse visual cortex, we describe a critical role for cortical astrocytes in circuit resynchronization. We characterize astrocytes’ calcium responses to changes in behavioral arousal and NE, and show that astrocytes signal when arousal-driven neuronal activity is reduced and bi-hemispheric cortical synchrony is increased. Using in vivo pharmacology, we uncover a paradoxical, synchronizing response to Adra1a receptor stimulation. We reconcile these results by demonstrating that astrocyte-specific deletion ofAdra1aenhances arousal-driven neuronal activity, while impairing arousal-related cortical synchrony. Our findings demonstrate that astrocytic NE signaling acts as a distinct neuromodulatory pathway, regulating cortical state and linking arousal-associated desynchrony to cortical circuit resynchronization.

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  2. Abstract All-electrical driven magnetization switching attracts much attention in next-generation spintronic memory and logic devices, particularly in magnetic random-access memory (MRAM) based on the spin–orbit torque (SOT), i.e. SOT-MRAM, due to its advantages of low power consumption, fast write/read speed, and improved endurance, etc. For conventional SOT-driven switching of the magnet with perpendicular magnetic anisotropy, an external assisted magnetic field is necessary to break the inversion symmetry of the magnet, which not only induces the additional power consumption but also makes the circuit more complicated. Over the last decade, significant effort has been devoted to field-free magnetization manipulation by using SOT. In this review, we introduce the basic concepts of SOT. After that, we mainly focus on several approaches to realize the field-free deterministic SOT switching of the perpendicular magnet. The mechanisms mainly include mirror symmetry breaking, chiral symmetry breaking, exchange bias, and interlayer exchange coupling. Furthermore, we show the recent progress in the study of SOT with unconventional origin and symmetry. The final section is devoted to the industrial-level approach for potential applications of field-free SOT switching in SOT-MRAM technology. 
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  3. Measurement of blood flow in tissue provides vital information for the diagnosis and therapeutic monitoring of various vascular diseases. A noncontact, camera-based, near-infrared speckle contrast diffuse correlation tomography (scDCT) technique has been recently developed for 3D imaging of blood flow index (αDB) distributions in deep tissues up to a centimeter. A limitation with the continuous-wave scDCT measurement of blood flow is the assumption of constant and homogenous tissue absorption coefficient (μa). The present study took the advantage of rapid, high-density, noncontact scDCT measurements of both light intensities and diffuse speckle contrast at multiple source-detector distances and developed two-step fitting algorithms for extracting bothμaand αDB. The new algorithms were tested in tissue-simulating phantoms with known optical properties and human forearms. Measurement results were compared against established near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) and diffuse correlation spectroscopy (DCS) techniques. The accuracies of our new fitting algorithms with scDCT measurements in phantoms (up to 16% errors) and forearms (up to 23% errors) are comparable to relevant study results (up to 25% errors). Knowledge ofμanot only improved the accuracy in calculating αDBbut also provided the potential for quantifying tissue blood oxygenation via spectral measurements. A multiple-wavelength scDCT system with new algorithms is currently developing to fit multi-wavelength and multi-distance data for 3D imaging of both blood flow and oxygenation distributions in deep tissues.

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  4. Abstract

    Giant spin-orbit torque (SOT) from topological insulators (TIs) provides an energy efficient writing method for magnetic memory, which, however, is still premature for practical applications due to the challenge of the integration with magnetic tunnel junctions (MTJs). Here, we demonstrate a functional TI-MTJ device that could become the core element of the future energy-efficient spintronic devices, such as SOT-based magnetic random-access memory (SOT-MRAM). The state-of-the-art tunneling magnetoresistance (TMR) ratio of 102% and the ultralow switching current density of 1.2 × 105 A cm−2have been simultaneously achieved in the TI-MTJ device at room temperature, laying down the foundation for TI-driven SOT-MRAM. The charge-spin conversion efficiencyθSHin TIs is quantified by both the SOT-induced shift of the magnetic switching field (θSH = 1.59) and the SOT-induced ferromagnetic resonance (ST-FMR) (θSH = 1.02), which is one order of magnitude larger than that in conventional heavy metals. These results inspire a revolution of SOT-MRAM from classical to quantum materials, with great potential to further reduce the energy consumption.

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