55 research outputs found

    Mirrors for slow neutrons from holographic nanoparticle-polymer free-standing film-gratings

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    We report on successful tests of holographically arranged grating-structures in nanoparticle-polymer composites in the form of 100 microns thin free-standing films, i.e. without sample containers or covers that could cause unwanted absorption/incoherent scattering of very-cold neutrons. Despite their large diameter of 2 cm, the flexible materials are of high optical quality and yield mirror-like reflectivity of about 90% for neutrons of 4.1 nm wavelength

    Neutron optical beam splitter from holographically structured nanoparticle-polymer composites

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    We report a breakthrough in the search for versatile diffractive elements for cold neutrons. Nanoparticles are spatially arranged by holographical means in a photopolymer. These grating structures show remarkably efficient diffraction of cold neutrons up to about 50% for effective thicknesses of only 200 micron. They open up a profound perspective for next generation neutron-optical devices with the capability to tune or modulate the neutron diffraction efficiency.Comment: 4 pages, 2 figure

    Allelic diversity and patterns of selection at the major histocompatibility complex class I and II loci in a threatened shorebird, the Snowy Plover (Charadrius nivosus)

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    Background: Understanding the structure and variability of adaptive loci such as the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) genes is a primary research goal for evolutionary and conservation genetics. Typically, classical MHC genes show high polymorphism and are under strong balancing selection, as their products trigger the adaptive immune response in vertebrates. Here, we assess the allelic diversity and patterns of selection for MHC class I and class II loci in a threatened shorebird with highly flexible mating and parental care behaviour, the Snowy Plover (Charadrius nivosus) across its broad geographic range. Results: We determined the allelic and nucleotide diversity for MHC class I and class II genes using samples of 250 individuals from eight breeding population of Snowy Plovers. We found 40 alleles at MHC class I and six alleles at MHC class II, with individuals carrying two to seven different alleles (mean 3.70) at MHC class I and up to two alleles (mean 1.45) at MHC class II. Diversity was higher in the peptide-binding region, which suggests balancing selection. The MHC class I locus showed stronger signatures of both positive and negative selection than the MHC class II locus. Most alleles were present in more than one population. If present, private alleles generally occurred at very low frequencies in each population, except for the private alleles of MHC class I in one island population (Puerto Rico, lineage tenuirostris). Conclusion: Snowy Plovers exhibited an intermediate level of diversity at the MHC, similar to that reported in other Charadriiformes. The differences found in the patterns of selection between the class I and II loci are consistent with the hypothesis that different mechanisms shape the sequence evolution of MHC class I and class II genes. The rarity of private alleles across populations is consistent with high natal and breeding dispersal and the low genetic structure previously observed at neutral genetic markers in this species

    Diffraction of slow neutrons by holographic SiO_2 nanoparticle-polymer composite gratings

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    Diffraction experiments with holographic gratings recorded in SiO2_2 nanoparticle-polymer composites have been carried out with slow neutrons. The influence of parameters such as nanoparticle concentration, grating thickness and grating spacing on the neutron-optical properties of such materials has been tested. Decay of the grating structure along the sample depth due to disturbance of the recording process becomes an issue at grating thicknesses of about 100 microns and larger. This limits the achievable diffraction efficiency for neutrons. As a solution to this problem, the Pendell\"{o}sung interference effect in holographic gratings has been exploited to reach a diffraction efficiency of 83% for very cold neutrons.Comment: 7 pages, 3 figures, submitted to Phys. Rev.

    Population differentiation and historical demography of the threatened snowy plover Charadrius nivosus (Cassin, 1858)

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    Delineating conservation units is a complex and often controversial process that is particularly challenging for highly vagile species. Here, we reassess population genetic structure and identify those populations of highest conservation value in the threatened snowy plover (Charadrius nivosus, Cassin, 1858), a partial migrant shorebird endemic to the Americas. We use four categories of genetic data—mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), microsatellites, Z-linked and autosomal single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs)—to: (1) assess subspecies delineation and examine population structure (2) compare the sensitivity of the different types of genetic data to detect spatial genetic patterns, and (3) reconstruct demographic history of the populations analysed. Delineation of two traditionally recognised subspecies was broadly supported by all data. In addition, microsatellite and SNPs but not mtDNA supported the recognition of Caribbean snowy plovers (C. n. tenuirostris) and Floridian populations (eastern C. n. nivosus) as distinct genetic lineage and deme, respectively. Low migration rates estimated from autosomal SNPs (m < 0.03) reflect a general paucity of exchange between genetic lineages. In contrast, we detected strong unidirectional migration (m = 0.26) from the western into the eastern nivosus deme. Within western nivosus, we found no genetic differentiation between coastal Pacific and inland populations. The correlation between geographic and genetic distances was weak but significant for all genetic data sets. All demes showed signatures of bottlenecks occurring during the past 1000 years. We conclude that at least four snowy plover conservation units are warranted: in addition to subspecies nivosus and occidentalis, a third unit comprises the Caribbean tenuirostris lineage and a fourth unit the distinct eastern nivosus deme