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  1. Abstract

    Polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS)—the simplest and most common silicone compound—exemplifies the central characteristics of its class and has attracted tremendous research attention. The development of PDMS‐based materials is a vivid reflection of the modern industry. In recent years, PDMS has stood out as the material of choice for various emerging technologies. The rapid improvement in bulk modification strategies and multifunctional surfaces has enabled a whole new generation of PDMS‐based materials and devices, facilitating, and even transforming enormous applications, including flexible electronics, superwetting surfaces, soft actuators, wearable and implantable sensors, biomedicals, and autonomous robotics. This paper reviews the latest advances in the field of PDMS‐based functional materials, with a focus on the added functionality and their use as programmable materials for smart devices. Recent breakthroughs regarding instant crosslinking and additive manufacturing are featured, and exciting opportunities for future research are highlighted. This review provides a quick entrance to this rapidly evolving field and will help guide the rational design of next‐generation soft materials and devices.

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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available October 9, 2024
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  4. Localized actuation is an important goal of nanotechnology broadly impacting applications such as programmable materials, soft robotics, and nanolithography. Despite significant recent advances, actuation with high temporal and spatial resolution remains challenging to achieve. Herein, we demonstrate strongly localized photoactuation of polymer pens made of polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) and surface-functionalized short carbon nanotubes based on a fundamental understanding of the nanocomposite chemistry and device innovations in directing intense light with digital micromirrors to microscale domains. We show that local illumination can drive a small group of pens (3 × 3 over 170 μm × 170 μm) within a massively two-dimensional array to attain an out-of-plane motion by more than 7 μm for active molecular printing. The observed effect marks a striking three-order-of-magnitude improvement over the state of the art and suggests new opportunities for active actuation.

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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available February 1, 2024
  5. Forests provide several critical ecosystem services that help to support human society. Alteration of forest infrastructure by changes in land use, atmospheric chemistry, and climate change influence the ability of forests to provide these ecosystem services and their sensitivity to existing and future extreme climate events. Here, we explore how the evolving forest infrastructure of the Midwest and Northeast United States influences carbon sequestration, biomass increment (i.e., change in vegetation carbon), biomass burning associated with fuelwood and slash removal, the creation of wood products, and runoff between 1980 and 2019 within the context of changing environmental conditions and extreme climate events using a coupled modeling and assessment framework. For the 40-year study period, the region’s forests functioned as a net atmospheric carbon sink of 687 Tg C with similar amounts of carbon sequestered in the Midwest and the Northeast. Most of the carbon has been sequestered in vegetation (+771 Tg C) with more carbon stored in Midwestern trees than in Northeastern trees to provide a larger resource for potential wood products in the future. Runoff from forests has also provided 4,651 billion m 3 of water for potential use by humans during the study period with the Northeastern forests providing about 2.4 times more water than the Midwestern forests. Our analyses indicate that climate variability, as particularly influenced by heat waves, has the dominant effect on the ability of forest ecosystems to sequester atmospheric CO 2 to mitigate climate change, create new wood biomass for future fuel and wood products, and provide runoff for potential human use. Forest carbon sequestration and biomass increment appear to be more sensitive to heat waves in the Midwest than the Northeast while forest runoff appears to be more sensitive in the Northeast than the Midwest. Land-use change, driven by expanding suburban areas and cropland abandonment, has enhanced the detrimental heat-wave effects in Midwestern forests over time, but moderated these effects in Northeastern forests. When developing climate stabilization, energy production and water security policies, it will be important to consider how evolving forest infrastructure modifies ecosystem services and their responses to extreme climate events over time. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available March 7, 2024
  6. Change to global climate, including both its progressive character and episodic extremes, constitutes a critical societal challenge. We apply here a framework to analyze Climate-induced Extremes on the Food, Energy, Water System Nexus (C-FEWS), with particular emphasis on the roles and sensitivities of traditionally-engineered (TEI) and nature-based (NBI) infrastructures. The rationale and technical specifications for the overall C-FEWS framework, its component models and supporting datasets are detailed in an accompanying paper (Vörösmarty et al., this issue). We report here on initial results produced by applying this framework in two important macro-regions of the United States (Northeast, NE; Midwest, MW), where major decisions affecting global food production, biofuels, energy security and pollution abatement require critical scientific support. We present the essential FEWS-related hypotheses that organize our work with an overview of the methodologies and experimental designs applied. We report on initial C-FEWS framework results using five emblematic studies that highlight how various combinations of climate sensitivities, TEI-NBI deployments, technology, and environmental management have determined regional FEWS performance over a historical time period (1980–2019). Despite their relative simplicity, these initial scenario experiments yielded important insights. We found that FEWS performance was impacted by climate stress, but the sensitivity was strongly modified by technology choices applied to both ecosystems (e.g., cropland production using new cultivars) and engineered systems (e.g., thermoelectricity from different fuels and cooling types). We tabulated strong legacy effects stemming from decisions on managing NBI (e.g., multi-decade land conversions that limit long-term carbon sequestration). The framework also enabled us to reveal how broad-scale policies aimed at a particular net benefit can result in unintended and potentially negative consequences. For example, tradeoff modeling experiments identified the regional importance of TEI in the form wastewater treatment and NBI via aquatic self-purification. This finding, in turn, could be used to guide potential investments in point and/or non-point source water pollution control. Another example used a reduced complexity model to demonstrate a FEWS tradeoff in the context of water supply, electricity production, and thermal pollution. Such results demonstrated the importance of TEI and NBI in jointly determining historical FEWS performance, their vulnerabilities, and their resilience to extreme climate events. These infrastructures, plus technology and environmental management, constitute the “policy levers” which can actively be engaged to mitigate the challenge of contemporary and future climate change. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available March 8, 2024
  7. Abstract Studies on the conditional relationships between PM2.5 concentrations among different regions are of great interest for the joint prevention and control of air pollution. Because of seasonal changes in atmospheric conditions, spatial patterns of PM2.5 may differ throughout the year. Additionally, concentration data are both non-negative and non-Gaussian. These data features pose significant challenges to existing methods. This study proposes a heterogeneous graphical model for non-negative and non-Gaussian data via the score matching loss. The proposed method simultaneously clusters multiple datasets and estimates a graph for variables with complex properties in each cluster. Furthermore, our model involves a network that indicate similarity among datasets, and this network can have additional applications. In simulation studies, the proposed method outperforms competing alternatives in both clustering and edge identification. We also analyse the PM2.5 concentrations' spatial correlations in Taiwan's regions using data obtained in year 2019 from 67 air-quality monitoring stations. The 12 months are clustered into four groups: January–March, April, May–September and October–December, and the corresponding graphs have 153, 57, 86 and 167 edges respectively. The results show obvious seasonality, which is consistent with the meteorological literature. Geographically, the PM2.5 concentrations of north and south Taiwan regions correlate more respectively. These results can provide valuable information for developing joint air-quality control strategies. 
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  8. Climate change continues to challenge food, energy, and water systems (FEWS) across the globe and will figure prominently in shaping future decisions on how best to manage this nexus. In turn, traditionally engineered and natural infrastructures jointly support and hence determine FEWS performance, their vulnerabilities, and their resilience in light of extreme climate events. We present here a research framework to advance the modeling, data integration, and assessment capabilities that support hypothesis-driven research on FEWS dynamics cast at the macro-regional scale. The framework was developed to support studies on climate-induced extremes on food, energy, and water systems (C-FEWS) and designed to identify and evaluate response options to extreme climate events in the context of managing traditionally engineered (TEI) and nature-based infrastructures (NBI). This paper presents our strategy for a first stage of research using the framework to analyze contemporary FEWS and their sensitivity to climate drivers shaped by historical conditions (1980–2019). We offer a description of the computational framework, working definitions of the climate extremes analyzed, and example configurations of numerical experiments aimed at evaluating the importance of individual and combined driving variables. Single and multiple factor experiments involving the historical time series enable two categories of outputs to be analyzed: the first involving biogeophysical entities (e.g., crop production, carbon sequestered, nutrient and thermal pollution loads) and the second reflecting a portfolio of services provided by the region’s TEI and NBI, evaluated in economic terms. The framework is exercised in a series of companion papers in this special issue that focus on the Northeast and Midwest regions of the United States. Use of the C-FEWS framework to simulate historical conditions facilitates research to better identify existing FEWS linkages and how they function. The framework also enables a next stage of analysis to be pursued using future scenario pathways that will vary land use, technology deployments, regulatory objectives, and climate trends and extremes. It also supports a stakeholder engagement effort to co-design scenarios of interest beyond the research domain. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available February 6, 2024