Projektová schéma Impulz má za cieľ skvalitniť vedecké organizácie Slovenskej akadémie vied prostredníctvom získania medzinárodne uznávaných vedcov a výskumníkov, ktorí prídu zo zahraničia alebo do zahraničia neodídu.

Schéma má pomôcť zvýšiť excelentnosť, internacionalizáciu a kompetitívnosť akadémie v Európskom výskumnom priestore a jej úspešnosť v získavaní prestížnych grantov.

Viac informácií:

Vyhodnotenie prvého ročníku programu IMPULZ 2021

CAT A - navrhnuté na financovanie

  1. IM-2021-26 - Superconducting spintronics & emergent phenomena in low-dimensional superconductors
  2. IM-2021-42 - Topological superconductivity in quantum two-dimensional devices
  3. IM-2021-23 - Aptamer-based analytical platform for in vitro and in situ analyses of complex carbohydrates

CAT B - rezervný list

  1. IM-2021-21 - Towards Highly Efficient Hybrid Organic-Inorganic Photovoltaics
  2. IM-2021-45 - High-entropy ceramics with enhanced and tunable mechanical properties by way of nanomechanics and atomic-scale design
  3. IM-2021-20 - Fundamental and applied advantages of the intrinsic spin wave nonreciprocity and nonlinearity

CAT C - dostatočná kvalita, zamietnuté, nefinancované

  1. IM-2021-38 - Diamond-based Biosensors for Life Sciences
  2. IM-2021-37 - Slovakia metro-scale quantum network testbed
  3. IM-2021-39 - A multi-source spatial approach for assessing changes in management and biodiversity of grasslands
  4. IM-2021-16 - Investigating the antibiotic tolerance effects by extracellular polysaccharides in opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa
  5. IM-2021-40 - Diagnostic and prognostic biosignatures of Parkinson’s disease
  6. IM-2021-41 - Unravelling the cellular and molecular signatures of metabolically driven liver fibrosis

CAT D - nedostatočná kvalita, zamietnuté, nefinancované

  1. IM-2021-43 - Metabolic Programming of Lifespan and Stress Tolerance by the Early Developmental Diet in Drosophila
  2. IM-2021-15 - Strategies for the development of electrocatalytic materials for eco-friendly and resource-saving technology of electrochemical hydrogen production
  3. IM-2021-24 - Missions with Monty: Facilitating Science Literacy and Self-Regulated Learning within a Game-Based Environment
  4. IM-2021-29 - Protein-protein interactions in the age of data - making the next step (alternative: Protein residue network models in molecular recognition of protein-protein interactions: Pair interaction energy model based on fragment molecular orbital)
  5. IM-2021-19 - Co-existence: Roma within Non-Roma World
  6. IM-2021-31 - Development of novel biotherapeutics of potent anti-immune properties inspired by viral tricks
  7. IM-2021-44 - The tumor immune microenvironment in premalignant and active hematological patients
  8. IM-2021-27 - Tumor-suppressive activity of serum TRAIL on epithelial-mesenchymal plasticity of circulating tumor cells in breast cancer patients undergoing radiotherapy
  9. IM-2021-28 - Economics and Politics: Measurement, Interactions, and Effects

CAT E - neposudzované v 2. kole

  1. IM-2021-17 - George Orwell’s Legacy: States of Exception in Post-Communist Dystopia
  2. IM-2021-18 - Receptive multilingualism in the Middle East and Africa
  3. IM-2021-25 - Thermophilous oak forests in Slovakia: unrevealing the drivers of plant taxonomic and functional diversity, climate change, and contributions to european diversity
  4. IM-2021-30 - MACA-WiFL: Massive Access with Collision Avoidance for next-generation Wi-Fi using Federated Learning
  5. IM-2021-32 - New generation of Parkinson`s disease diagnostic assays
  6. IM-2021-33 - Neuropeptides: revealing the secrets of neuronal control and behaviour in tsetse flies
  7. IM-2021-35 - Effect of linguistic experience on metacognition in language tasks and transfer to non-linguistic behaviour
  8. IM-2021-36 - Poiesis – generative literature, translation and artistic creation

Dostatočná kvalita avšak zamietnuté organizátorom kvôli prijatiu inej pozície uchádzačmi v priebehu hodnotiaceho procesu

  1. IM-2021-22 - Elucidating the molecular mechanism and metabolic regulation of substrate cycles
  2. IM-2021-34 - Discovering Heavy-Atom Main-Group Chemistry with Relativistic DFT and Multireference Calculations

Superconducting spintronics & emergent phenomena in low-dimensional superconductors

Scientific areas: condensed matter theory, spintronics, superconductivity

Keywords: superconducting spintronics, unconventional superconductivity, proximity effects, spin relaxation, Majorana modes, topological bound states, resonances

From a broader perspective the Superconducting spintronics is vastly expanding field that strives to utilize spintronics phenomena and transfer its applications into the realm of superconductivity. While the latter can support dissipation-less charge transport, and also topologically protected (e.g. Majorana) modes, the former can make use of electron spin for encoding and processing information. For these reasons, one may hope to launch a spin-driven superconducting device that would be, on one hand, very efficient in terms of energy demands, and on the other hand, would offer computational functionalities operating on quantum principles. The beauty of the above idea rests in its simplicity, but as always, devil is hidden in details. To bring such spintronics vision into an operating platform one would need superconducting materials that promote unconventional pairing of electrons into Cooper pairs. Unfortunately, Nature does not give us “free of charge” unconventional superconductors with all those wonderful properties. However, it offers us, instead, “smaller pieces of material-lego” that when being proximitized along each other engender the “scaffolded synthetic hybrid systems” owning effective unconventional pairing (and even much more). Such proximity effects, which are central to my proposal, represent a versatile platform to 1) control and functionalize spin, orbital, topological and magnetic properties of the constituting subsystems by external means – gating, temperature gradients, chemical composition, band structure engineering etc. 2) synthetize quasi-2D interfaces promoting an unconventional superconducting pairing and them associated topological bound states (Majoranas, Yu-Shiba-Rusinov states, Caroli-de Gennes-Matricon vortex states, etc.).


Hosťujúca organizácia:

Topological superconductivity in quantum two-dimensional devices

Scientific areas: Condensed Matter Physics, Quantum Technologies, Quantum Materials, Low Temperature Physics

Keywords: quantum topological materials, 2D superconductors, topological superconductivity

Topological superconductivity is one of the keystones of ongoing renaissance in the condensed-matter physics. Since the 1980s the developments kicked off by the high-Tc superconductivity and quantum Hall effect have opened fascinating renovations towards quantum topological computing. We are now on the doorstep when fundamental material research is asked to provide quantum functional materials ready for our modern society taking an ever increasing role in a wide range of technologies including quantum information processing and quantum computation. The world is going quantum in which topological systems widen horizon into topological superconductivity. Predicted topological superconductivity emerges due to fragile pairing symmetries accessible easily in two-dimensional (2D) superconductors. A near absence of clean-limit 2D superconductors represents a hindrance to the pursuit of utilization of the exotic superconducting phases. The unconventional mechanism of Cooper pairing is often attributed to a momentum dependent superconducting gap structure with sign reversal of its amplitude and is primarily supported by the proximity of superconductivity to magnetism1. Pairing gap functions with topologically protected nodal structure is sensitive to disorder, which can induce scattering of the Cooper pairs across the Fermi surface. This can be avoided in the clean-limit regime when Pippard coherence length ksi 0 is much smaller than the electronic mean free path l for well-defined crystal momentum of the Cooper pairs. 2D superconductors in this clean-limit play a central role when seeking for the unconventional superconducting phases. At present, there is a deficiency of materials that allow access to the clean-limit regime.


Hosťujúca organizácia:

Aptamer-based analytical platform for in vitro and in situ analyses of complex carbohydrates

Scientific areas: plant glycobiology, biotechnology, molecular biology

Keywords: aptamers, SELEX, cell wall, complex carbohydrates, probing, assays, plants, profiling, imaging, somatic embryogenesis, cell elongation

The present project aims to establish a new analytical platform for plant carbohydrates by generating a unique set of DNA-based probes—aptamers. These probes will be implemented for (i) in situ localization of cell wall components and their intricate 3D arrangements in muro as well as for (ii) development of new assays for precise quantification and high-throughput compositional profiling of carbohydrates by means of well-established molecular biology techniques. (iii) This developed advanced technology will be validated and applied for studying the dynamics of cell walls during somatic embryogenesis and cellular elongation.


Hosťujúca organizácia:

Towards Highly Efficient Hybrid Organic-Inorganic Photovoltaics

Scientific areas: physics, optoelectronics, solid-state-physics

Keywords: hybrid organic-inorganic semiconductors, perovskites, defects, in-situ characterization, GIWAXS, photoluminescence, solar cells, photovoltaics

Organic-based semiconductors and, in particular, hybrid organic-inorganic perovskites have emerged over the past decade as leading candidates for efficient next-generation light-emitting diodes and solar cells. Owing to high photoluminescence quantum yields (PLQYs), the hybrid perovskites efficiently convert the injected charge carriers into light and vice versa. Even though the PLQY is relatively high, the further performance increase of perovskite-based applications is limited by nonradiative recombinations – either through trap-assisted recombination in the absorber layer or via minority carrier recombination at the perovskite/transport layer interfaces. This project is dedicated to understanding the defects that play a crucial role in limiting photovoltaic performance and developing effective passivation routes to achieve further performance advances. Its innovation potential lies in increasing the efficiency of future photovoltaic applications via addressed investigation of the nonradiative traps at the surfaces and interfaces and their efficient passivation.


High-entropy ceramics with enhanced and tunable mechanical properties by way of nanomechanics and atomic-scale design

Scientific areas: Physics, Materials Science and Engineering, Ceramics

Keywords: High-entropy ceramics; refractory ceramics; micro/nanomechanical testing; strength; plasticity

During the last decades, a growing need has arisen for structural materials that can be used as parts and tools for different combinations of load at temperatures exceeding 2000 degrees C in oxidizing atmospheres, such as hypersonic vehicles and spacecraft. To date, ultra-high temperature ceramics (UHTCs), based on the refractory carbides, diborides and nitrides of the group IV and V transition metals (e.g. ZrB2, TaC, HfN), are the only group of materials that can withstand extreme environments1. These materials have potential use as cutting tools, refractory linings, burners, turbocharger rotors and also in energy- and environmental-related applications as porous catalytic materials (i.e. flame stabilizers) in hydrogen burners. Although UHTCs have a number of excellent properties, they are: i) a limited group of materials; ii) macroscopically brittle; and iii) under increasing pressure to perform in more extreme operating conditions due to the demands of developing technologies. A promising way to broaden the application and improve the performance of UHTCs is the recent development of bulk high-entropy ceramics (HECs), which consist of no less than four different types of cations stabilized by their configurational entropy, opening up a vast compositional space of new ceramics.


Fundamental and applied advantages of the intrinsic spin wave nonreciprocity and nonlinearity

Scientific areas: Solid state physics, spintronics, magnonics

Keywords: Magnonics, spin wave, nonreciprocity, nonlinearity.

Spin waves (SW) are bosonic elementary excitations in magnetically ordered systems and magnon is their corresponding quasiparticle. Magnonic field is focused nowadays on implementation of SWs into novel computing devices [1,2]. In order to employ SWs for the next generation computing, one has to be able to control them precisely. Some of the most exciting properties of SWs, e.g., nonreciprocal propagation [3], nonlinearity [4,5,6] or easy way to induce gain/loss effects [7], have their origin in the form of the governing equation of SWs, Landau-Lifshitz equation. Therefore, they are intrinsic for SWs, in contrast to other wave hosting systems. Other interesting properties, e.g., originating from spatio-temporal (ST) modulation of magnetic parameters, could be induced by external sources, i.e., interaction with piezoelectric, phonons, electrons or photons. The time-reversal symmetry breaking, nonrecirpocity, ST modulation, gain/loss effects or nonlinearity are in the center of attention of present high impact research for mosts of the wave systems, due to possibility they create to tailor dispersion and phenomena they induce, e.g., topological insulators (TI), topological unidirectional edge propagation. The field of magnonics provides a platform for studying new kinds of phenomena that are specific to SW, due to intrinsic nonreciprocal or nonlinear properties of SWs. I expect that the synthetic magnonic structures will play an important role in development of device concepts based on dispersion engineering, e.g., signal processing with topological insulators. Intrinsic SW properties will induce unprecedented SW propagation and together with other SWs advantages (reconfigurability, short wavelength, low energy consumption) will lead to development of concepts of magnonic functional elements and magnonic based devices. The goal of this project is to achieve novel wave propagation properties. It will be achieved by exploring intrinsic magnon properties and the band engineering in topological insulators. Our team will focus on time reversal symmetry breaking of SWs, consequent nonreciprocal propagation and nonlinearity of SWs [8]. We propose ways for tailoring SW properties of groundbreaking nature with potential impact not only on magnonic functional elements, but also on the field of TIs.


Diamond-based Biosensors for Life Sciences

Scientific areas: Condensed matter physics, Electrical and electronic engineering, Biomaterials

Keywords: diamond, carbon hybridization, composite material, biosensor, impedance, FET, QCM, surface activation, SEM, Raman, photoluminescence, biomolecule, protein, cell, artificial scaffold

Bio-electronics is a scientific field coupling the achievements in biology with electronics to obtain higher sensitivity, specificity, and speed. Biosensors have played a key role, and many of them have become established in the clinical and scientific world. Although there is a wide range of biosensors and read-out techniques, the “Cells-on-chips” can be considered as state-of-the-art and very valuable for cytomic and single-cell analyses, but they are quite far from daily laboratory work with cell cultures. The need for sensitivity and selectivity, fast and reliable response raise demand for specific material properties. There are many popular transduction materials, such as silicon, susceptible to hydrolysis, leading to the loss of bioreceptor molecules from the surface. Similarly, silicon is not fully biocompatible to all cell lines, it can be chemically damaged, etc. In this context, increased attention has been shifted towards using diamonds, which surpasses silicon on many levels. The use of diamond for biosensors is advantageous due to its high chemical inertness, corrosion resistance, hardness, wide potential windows, the feasibility of surface modification, and the lack of toxic and carcinogenic effects on humans and animals. Thanks to such a rich and extraordinary combination of properties, all in one platform, diamond is very attractive for novel trends, such as spintronics and quantum computing, diagnostic and therapeutic uses, or biologically active artificial substrates. Here, characterization and understanding of interactions between biological materials and solid-state surfaces is a key role for the development of cellular sensors, stimulation of neurons, artificial substrates, or bio-implants for tissue engineering and regenerative medicine.


Slovakia metro-scale quantum network testbed

Scientific areas: Quantum information, quantum photonics, nonlinear optics

Keywords: quantum communication network, quantum optics, quantum cryptography

Provably secured communications are paramount in our society thus, we need a solution long before the advent of the first practical quantum computer which can threaten our widely adopted current crypto-systems. Due to its high levels of security and technological maturity quantum communication is rapidly gaining popularity and a few systems already reached commercialisation. The upgrade of a network infrastructure may seem trivial if commercial systems are already available but it is not that simple. The history of quantum networks is already rich in attempts to stack these pairwise links in a fiber-based network and recently, hundreds of millions of euros of research funding have been allocated to build large- scale quantum communication network. However, most implementations suffer from drawbacks preventing them from being widely adopted. The first difficulty one encounters with a trusted-node approach is the resource overhead of a fully connected mesh, and second while trying to deploy these QKD systems, is their limited range of operation. They are quite efficient at a metropolitan scale but the drastic decreasing rate with losses and the nature of quantum information, disallowing amplification, make inter-city links a challenge. Entanglement-based QKD is key to build a scalable trusted-node free and fully connected quantum network. Amongst those protocols, Flood Light QKD is a prime candidate to solve bottleneck issues in connecting clusters of metropolitan networks with a single link. This protocol is not constrained by the fundamental limits of repeaterless quantum communications like standard QKD schemes and can reach gigabits rates of unconditionally secure communication. The challenge resting on the fact that it employs a phase-stable interferometric system deployed over a long optical fibre. This project aims at combining various QKD protocols for establishing full connectivity of multiple nodes over short distances and some specific entanglement-based protocols for reaching long distance of quantum communication. Hence, creating the backbone of a first international quantum communication network.


A multi-source spatial approach for assessing changes in management and biodiversity of grasslands

Scientific areas: geography, remote sensing, landscape ecology

Keywords: remote sensing, grassland management, grassland biodiversity, Sentinel-2, Landsat, Planetscope, landscape history, future scenarios, land use, landscape ecology, time series, spatial analysis

Grasslands are behind forests, the most widespread terrestrial ecosystems but only little is known about their states, management and biodiversity. Large areas of the grassland tend to be degraded (Squires, 2018), but a realistic global overview is still missing (Reinermann et al., 2020). Of the reasons is the lack of focus on grassland surfaces in the landscape mapping. For example, at various maps that have been available (and were also produced within the proposed host institution), grassland areas were, at best, distinguished from the arable lands at very coarse resolutions. The potential reason is the heterogeneity of the grassland surfaces which may consist solely of grass species but may also compose shrubs or trees (Dixon et al., 2014). Within the land use systems, grasslands provide multiple services for humans and nature, for example, food and fodder provisioning, habitat for various species, or cultural heritage (Bengtsson et al., 2019). The provisioning of these services balances substantially across the globe and is influenced by climate, cultural factors and the spatial and temporal configuration of landscape types. While at some grasslands of the world, such as the steppes, the grassland landscapes appear naturally at other sites are grassland landscapes, an outcome of various management strategies, mostly defined by mowing, grazing and fertilization. Due to external factors such as climate but mostly human management, the grasslands of the world may change over time.


Investigating the antibiotic tolerance effects by extracellular polysaccharides in opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa

Scientific areas: bacteriology

Keywords: Pseudomonas aeruginosa, biofilm, bacterial aggregates, extracellular polysaccharides, antibiotics, pH

Metal–organic frameworks (MOFs) are a class of hybrid materials with many promising applications. In recent years, lots of investigations have been oriented toward applications of MOFs in electronic and photoelectronic devices. However, the research direction on both low and high-K dielectric characteristics of hydrophobic MOFs is still in its early stage of development. Herein, we plan to prepare several MOFs via solvothermal reaction and carry out their photoluminescent properties of conductive MOFs together with their corresponding applications in solar cells, light emitting, and so forth. For integration of MOFs with practical devices, advances in fabrication of photoactive MOF thin films will also be summarized.


Diagnostic and prognostic biosignatures of Parkinson’s disease

Scientific areas: neurobiology, medicine, molecular biology

Keywords: neurodegeneration, Parkinon’s disease, extracellular vesicles, biomarkers, machine learning, diagnosis, prediction

Parkinson’s disease (PD) as a devastating disease caused by a progressive loss of neurons producing neurotransmitter dopamin. The prevalence is around 1% for 60 years old people but rising dramatically to over 10 % for population of 85 years and older. Even though it has been described more than 200 years ago, we still do not understand completely what is a cause of this disease and how is the pathology of PD spreading through the brain and body. The pathological hallmarks of PD are a progressive and gradual loss of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra pars compacta and neuro-inflammation in various brain regions. One of the most promninent histopathological features of PD are Lewy bodies (LB). Their major component is a presynaptic protein alpha-synuclein (alpha-Syn). Interestingly, pathological LB are not only found in brains of PD patients but in the periphery as well. Thus PD is a systemic disease with a wide variety of neurological but non-neurological symptoms as well. Recent data suggest that extracellular vesicles (EVs) secreted by neurons and glial cells play an important role in spreading and increase of neuroinflammation leading to neuronal dysfunction and PD progression. EVs are membrane vesicles released from cells into the extracellular space with their function as shuttles for the delivery of cargo between cells. They have been found to carry specific proteins, lipids, functional messenger RNAs (mRNAs), high amounts of non-coding RNAs (including microRNAs, lncRNAs, and circRNAs) and other bioactive substances. The content inside EVs changes depending on the response to environmental conditions. The role of EVs in PD is underlined by the fact, that a number of genes linked to PD, have been suggested to play a role in EVs biology (e.g. LRRK2, ATP13A2, VPS35, GBA). Previous studies pointed out to the role of EVs in the spreading of alpha-Syn pathological forms to the periphery. However, the mechanism of this spreading is still not clear. Another prominent question regarding the role of EVs in spreading of alpha-Syn-related pathologies is the function of miRNAs inside EVs contributing to the regulation of alpha-Syn toxicity. Current studies focused on this phenomena are using sequencing of miRNA content inside EVs from PD patients plasma or CSF. This approach has numerous limitations and challenges and the application of obtained data is questionable. To date, there are several studies which explored the potential EVs content as a diagnostic tool for different dementias, and EVs are considered a promising way for the differential profiling of dementia types. However, the data obtained from patients are very variable and inconclusive. This is caused by the differences in used biological material (e.g. blood, plasma, CSF), stage of the disease, its manifestation and patients factors as well (e.g. age, sex, co-morbidities).


Unravelling the cellular and molecular signatures of metabolically driven liver fibrosis

Scientific areas: physiology, metabolism, hepatology

Keywords: liver fibrosis, metabolic dysfunction, physiologically humanized NAFLD mouse model, hepatocytes, stellate cells, cellular heterogeneity, molecular driver, biomarkers

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is the most common liver disorder worldwide as it affects 25% of human population. NAFLD is a heterogeneous disorder encompassing a broad range of histologic states, while its transition from benign steatosis to more aggressive non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is completely not understood. Currently, no effective pharmacotherapy to treat NAFLD exists. So far, inflammation and fibrosis have been in the centre of investigation to design novel therapeutic strategies. However, a strong association of NAFLD with metabolic comorbidities as well as with an improvement of disease severity following lifestyle intervention indicates that targeting energy metabolism is essential to resolve NAFLD in its origin. This project aims to investigate the metabolic aspect of NAFLD with the following specific objectives: 1) to develop a novel physiologically humanized mouse model of NAFLD; 2) to analyse cellular heterogeneity of NAFLD progression in a time-resolved manner; and 3) to identify molecular drivers of NAFLD and validate targets with diagnostic and therapeutic potential. Comprehensive transcriptomic, histological, bioenergetic and biochemical analyses of liver and pure FACS-sorted hepatocytes and hepatic stellate cells will provide important insights into NAFLD-associated changes at the cellular, molecular, and energetic level. Genetic mouse models, pharmacological and genetic tools, in combination with state-of-the-art techniques, such as bulk and single-cell RNA sequencing, FACS sorting, bioenergetic measurements, histological and bioinformatic analyses, will be employed to uncover NAFLD-associated changes in liver cellular heterogeneity and transcriptome. This comprehensive resource will serve as basis for identification of new therapeutic targets and circulating biomarkers with a real potential in treatment and timely diagnosis of this chronic metabolic disease.


Metabolic Programming of Lifespan and Stress Tolerance by the Early Developmental Diet in Drosophila

Scientific areas: genetics, metabolism, physiology

Keywords: Drosophila, epigenetics, obesity, metabolism, metabolomics, diet, microbiome, human disease model

Studies in humans have revealed that poor/unbalanced nutrition during early life increases the risk of some metabolic diseases and cancers at adult age. Indeed, dietary conditions experienced during early development may have long-lasting detrimental effects on an organism’s metabolism that can persist into adulthood affecting physiology and lifespan, a phenomenon termed ‘metabolic programming’. For example, nutritional deprivation during the first trimester of intrauterine development increases the risk of obesity, cardiovascular diseases and metabolic syndrome during adulthood. Yet, the mechanism(s) by which early developmental diet affects adult physiology and health remains mostly uncharacterized. These often-neglected developmental carry-over effects might also be widespread throughout the animal kingdom and have unsuspected ecological consequences. In my recent research, I have discovered that the metabolic programming by early diet is indeed evolutionarily conserved, and can be experimentally induced and studied in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster, a popular invertebrate model for human diseases. My work has shown that development of fly larvae on a protein-poor diet results in altered fat metabolism and extended lifespan. In the proposed “MetaPro” project, I aim to use the Drosophila model to decrypt the process of metabolic programming and identify candidate mechanisms by which early diet affects adult fitness (lifespan) and environmental stress tolerance. Specifically, the project will address the following questions: 1) Which major nutritional compounds of early diet are involved in the metabolic programming? 2) Are these effects mediated by the nutrient-sensing pathways? 3) Does the early diet cause persistent changes in the metabolic profiles? 4) Are the effects of early diet mediated by the altered composition of gut microbiota? By employing interdisciplinary approaches combining animal ecophysiology, microbiology, genetics, molecular biology, and state-of-the-art OMICs, the project will generate novel understanding of the mechanistic links between the early diet and adult’s physiology and fitness. Thanks to the strong evolutionary conservation of the metabolic pathways, discoveries in Drosophila flies could be transferable to other models, opening up new research avenues in the field of animal’s nutritional ecology or in human’s biomedical sciences.


Strategies for the development of electrocatalytic materials for eco-friendly and resource-saving technology of electrochemical hydrogen production

Scientific areas: Energy Sciences, Chemical Sciences, Materials Sciences

Keywords: electrode materials; electrochemical tests; electrocatalytic properties; nanostructured surfaces; hydrogen evolution; eco-friendly technology

Hydrogen is expected to play a key role in a future climate-neutral economy, enabling emission-free transport, heating and industrial processes as well as inter-seasonal energy storage. Clean hydrogen produced with renewable electricity from water and water solutions is a zero-emission energy carrier, but is not yet as cost-competitive as hydrogen produced from natural gas. This proposal is aimed to solve one of the most important for nowadays tasks - the creation of highly efficient and inexpensive catalytic materials for the electrochemical production of hydrogen from aqueous solutions. The proposed in project approaches and methods involve electrochemical and chemical surface modification (electrooxidation, electrodeposition and electroless deposition) of affordable, stable and inexpensive metals, alloys and metal foams in environmentally friendly solvents of new generation (deep eutectic solvents). The proposed concepts, which belong to “green” chemistry and electrochemistry, will make it possible to obtain electrodes for hydrogen evolution reaction with high photocatalytic and electrocatalytic activity. Moreover, designed electrodes can be used as electrode materials for the electrochemical purification of industrial waste water containing organic components. The advantages of the proposed modification strategies are simplicity, environmental friendliness, availability and low cost of electrolyte components and high processing results. Thus, the successful implementation of the proposed project will allow the Slovak Academy of Sciences and Slovak Republic in general to make a noticeable step to become a pioneer in the production and use of hydrogen as an energy carrier.


Missions with Monty: Facilitating Science Literacy and Self-Regulated Learning within a Game-Based Environment

Scientific areas: self-regulated learning, game-based learning, metacognition

Keywords: science literacy, self-regulated learning, metacognition, game-based learning, motivation

Results from the most recent PISA, PIRLS, and TIMMS assessments suggest that increased focus on science and literacy outcomes in Slovakian schools is warranted (OECD, 2018; Mullis, et al., 2017, 2020). Yet, the most visible national response thus far has been an increased amount of testing at the expense of equipping Slovak students with the skills necessary to „learn how to learn“ (Kascak, 2021). These skills are typically driven by keen metacognitive abilities that assist learners to self-regulate their learning. The proposed project aims to address this issue by simultaneously increasing science literacy and self- regulatory skills of Slovakian 5th-grade students through a game-based learning environment (GBLE) called MISSIONS WITH MONTY . This project brings together an interdisciplinary research team from Educational Psychology, Elementary Science and Literacy Education, Computer Science, and Design to 1) design, develop, and integrate extensive curriculum and assessments for 5th grade learners aligned with UN Sustainable Goals and local curriculum, 2) create scaffolds that support self-regulated learning (SRL) and science achievement, 3) study the impact of collaborative and individual gameplay, and 4) explore the effectiveness of community collaboration that involves collaboration with students across geographic locations. The program is guided by recent meta-analytic support for computer-supported collaborative learning (CSCL) on knowledge gains (Chen, et al., 2018) and remains grounded in the theoretical literature in SRL (Pintrich, 2000; Winne & Hadwin, 1998; Zimmerman, 2008). It is commonly understood that today’s youth spend significant amounts of time playing video games. The goals and innovation of this project lie in capitalizing on this interest and combining it with advanced technologies and theories of learning to produce an environment that is unique in its capabilities to train and scaffold content learning.


Protein-protein interactions in the age of data - making the next step (alternative: Protein residue network models in molecular recognition of protein-protein interactions: Pair interaction energy model based on fragment molecular orbital)

Scientific areas: bioinformatics, proteomics, theoretical chemistry

Keywords: protein residue networks, protein-protein interactions, bioinformatics, virus proteins

Molecular mechanisms of processes based on protein-protein interactions (PPI) often presuppose that the “right” residues interact with each other. We can call this phenomenon molecular recognition. Such interactions govern a multitude of processes in cells and are essential for functions of organisms. The interplay of proteins in immune responses is one such example. Hence, the disruption of these interaction networks can have severe adverse effects on the organism. On contrary, targeted specific modulation can be successfully used in treatment/medicinal applications. Of course, in order for such modulation to be effective one has to understand how particular proteins interact.


Co-existence: Roma within Non-Roma World

Scientific areas: history, ethnography

Keywords: Roma, Co-existence, Community, Society, Central, Southeastern and Eastern Europe (CESEE)

The historical areal of Roma communities are the countries of Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe (CESEE), where untill now is their highest concentration. Roma are a scholarly challenge for researchers, attracting the interest of scholars from different disciplines for more than a century. Despite the huge amount of diverse studies available, largely outside or only on the margins of academic interest, many issues remain, one of the most important (if not the most important) of which is that of the past and present co-existence of Roma with surrounding non-Roma populations. There are almost no studies on the patterns of co-existence of Roma with surrounding populations, apart from studies of state policy measures, often reflecting general anti-Gypsy public attitudes and prejudices, combined recently with studies on their resistance to attempts targeting their acculturation, assimilation and annihilation. All this, however, doesn’t answer the crucial question of how it was possible for Roma to persist and to sustain over a millennium in the places of their residence, and also in cases of a changeable societal environment. Therefore, the overall project aim is to provide different, completely new insights into the principles and various forms of this mutual co-existence.


Development of novel biotherapeutics of potent anti-immune properties inspired by viral tricks

Scientific areas: viral and cancer immunology; molecular and structural biology

Keywords: checkpoint receptors; immunological synapse; receptor recognition; ligand interactions; immunomodulation; virokines; human cytomegalovirus; cancer immunotherapy; therapeutic design

The immunotherapy is now one of the hottest areas in research, however, our aim is to work on immunotherapy that set out in novel direction – by tricking the body’s own defenses inspired by viral tricks into fighting the enemy within. Our main goal is to look at the molecules that cytomegalovirus uses to turn down the immune system to figure out how to develop a new biotherapeutic drug to treat both viral, autoimmune diseases or cancer. Within the project, we will investigate two important viral proteins (UL141 and UL144) that function on NK and T cells and how they act in both healthy and disease states. The aim is to produce a detailed picture of their molecular architecture and function and therefore to serve as a molecular-level blueprint for rationalized design of biotherapeutics and this will be tested by computational methods in parallel to in vitro biological testing on both normal and tumor cells. Indeed, we will repurpose virus-derived immunomodulatory proteins to design novel proof-of-concept tools that target inhibitory checkpoint receptors expressed on tumors and thereby impair the proliferation of the tumor cells. The determination of such factors regulating receptor and ligand expression on the cell surface and to identify a potentially inhibitable interaction between these cellular restriction factors and a viral agonist (UL144) or antagonist (UL141) will allow for a better understanding of the role of these viral proteins in immune responses and how these pathways can be manipulated for therapeutic intervention.


The tumor immune microenvironment in premalignant and active hematological patients

Scientific areas: hematology, oncology, immunology

Keywords: immune system, tumor microenvironment, lymphoma, myeloma, leukemia

The tumor microenvironment (TME) is recognized as crucial to sustaining tumor cell survival and growth, disease evolution and progression, and drug resistance in hematological malignancies. Hematological malignancies include various subtypes of leukemia, lymphoma and multiple myeloma (MM). A hallmark of the tumor microenvironment in hematological malignancies is profound immune dysregulation and loss of immune surveillance, which contributes significantly to malignant transformation and pathogenesis. The overall objective of this proposal is to characterize the immune TME in hematological malignancies, including leukemia, lymphoma and multiple myeloma. A central component is primary patient bone marrow (BM) and/or peripheral blood samples, in precursors and malignant versus age-matched healthy conditions, from various histopathological subtypes of hematological patients. We will focus on understanding the complex innate and adaptive immune systems by developing a multiscale immune cell profiling strategy. Moreover, defining the functional mechanisms and their biological sequelae among tumor promoting/suppressing immune subsets and tumor cells by several activation markers, immune checkpoint molecules and tumor specific/aberrant antigens will provide the framework for development of novel personalized diagnostic criteria that in turn will lead to more effective immune-treatment targeted strategies. High-dimensional immunophenotypic tumor profiling with tumor-driven immune changes and even strategy for including minimal residual disease (MRD) and tumor-draining lymph nodes (LN) assessment will be define as a further level of complexity to better understand pathogenesis of hematological disorders to improve patient outcome. The immune TME of primary hematological patients will be studied using cellular/phenotypic approaches including mass (CyTOF)/flow cytometry analyses; activation markers, immune checkpoint molecules and tumor specific/aberrant antigens and their signaling pathways will be evaluated using molecular/cellular analyses by CyTOF and/or Hyperion analyses and role of the immune TME in MRD and tumor-draining lymph nodes (LN) assessment will be analyzed by CyTOF and Hyperion analysis. Therefore, better understanding the complexity of tumor cells and their immune (innate/adaptive) TME will provide the framework for novel therapeutic approaches to either reinforce anti-tumor immunity and/or abrogate the tumor-promoting signals delivered by immunosuppressive niche.


Tumor-suppressive activity of serum TRAIL on epithelial-mesenchymal plasticity of circulating tumor cells in breast cancer patients undergoing radiotherapy

Scientific areas: cancer research

Keywords: breast cancer, TRAIL, circulating tumor cells, radiotherapy, epithelial mesenchymal transition.

Breast cancer ranks the first among all female malignant tumors, which seriously threatens the life and health of the patients [1]. Distant metastasis of tumor is that circulating tumor cells (CTCs) enter peripheral blood circulation, then enter tissues and organs through blood circulation, and form metastatic lesions [2]. Detection of CTCs may reflect persistent occult localized disease as a source of continuously shedding of circulating tumor material and serve as a meaningful predictive biomarker for benefit of post-mastectomy radiotherapy of breast cancer patients [3]. At present, epithelial marker (epithelial cell adhesion molecule, EpCAM) staining is the widely used method for the detection of CTCs [4]. Epithelial mesenchymal transition (EMT) plays a key role in promoting tumor cell migration and invasion, and causes the decrease or even loss of EpCAM expression [5]. Therefore, some CTCs may be missed using CTC enrichment technologies that based on EpCAM. There is indisputable evidence of significant CTC heterogeneity in carcinomas, in particular breast cancer [6]. Previous studies have shown that the combination of epithelial markers and mesenchymal markers can better reflect the number of CTCs in breast cancer patients [6, 7]. Based on epithelial markers [EpCAM and cytokeratin (CK)] and stromal markers (Vimentin and twist), CTCs could be divided into three subgroups: epithelial CTCs (E+ CTCs), mixed epithelial/mesenchymal CTCs (E+/M+ CTCs) and mesenchymal CTCs (M+ CTCs)


Economics and Politics: Measurement, Interactions, and Effects

Scientific areas: Economics

Keywords: uncertainty, European integration, central banks, textual analysis

Circulating tumor cells (CTCs) have been identified as a prognostic marker for the patients with breast cancer [1]. However, epithelial mesenchymal transition (EMT) causes the decrease or even loss of epithelial surface expression of CTCs, such as epithelial cell adhesion molecule (EpCAM) [2]. Some CTCs may be missed using CTC enrichment technologies that based on EpCAM [2]. Therefore, accurate and reliable markers are particularly important for the diagnosis and prognosis of breast cancer patients. Serum-soluble tumor necrosis factor related apoptosis inducing ligand (sTRAIL) was significantly lower in breast cancer patients than that in healthy controls and it can be used to indicate the prognosis of these patients [3]. It is also an inducer for apoptotic signaling pathways that can overcome redioresistance in cancer cells [4]. sTRAIL has been proved to be negatively correlated with CTCs in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients [5]. Although more and more studies have paid close attention to the EMT subgroup of CTCs in evaluating the prognosis of breast cancer patients [2, 6], no studies have shown the tumor-suppressive effects of sTRAIL on EMT labeled CTCs in these patients. EpCAM-mediated cellular plasticity promotes radiation resistance and metastasis in breast cancer [7]. However, the roles of TRAIL in the radiosensitivity of breast cancer cells EMT subsets, especially in EpCAM positive cells, also remain unclear


George Orwell’s Legacy: States of Exception in Post-Communist Dystopia

Scientific areas: Sciences of culture and arts; Sciences of human and society

Keywords: state of exception, dystopia, utopia, plot, character

Some scholars called George Orwell "the most influential political writer of the twentieth century". For Post-Communist literature, Orwell was a prophet who predicted the path of dystopia as a genre. Until the collapse of communist rule, the Soviet state banned publication of utopian and especially dystopian literature and prohibited scholarship on these genres. Indeed, my 1994 doctoral dissertation was the first monographic treatment of the topic in Russia. Since then, dystopian novels have become mainstream popular reading in the former Soviet Union and the genre has been included into the national school literature curriculum. In my research I explore the linkages between post-communist dystopias and life under what Carl Schmitt (and later Giorgio Agamben) called a “state of exception”—a condition in which authorities manipulate alleged emergency conditions to justify extra-legal exercise of power. I am bringing a new term into literary studies borrowing it from the political sciences. Usage of "State of exception" is necessary to analyze the specific spatiality and ideological conflict in dystopian literature. I argue that the dystopian literature serves both to critique realities of their own society and to posit alternative visions of the future that are themselves predicated on the same states of exception and provoke resistance.


Receptive multilingualism in the Middle East and Africa

Scientific areas: Linguistics, Sociology

Keywords: receptive multilingualism, mutual intelligibility, typological linguistics, descriptive linguistics, dialectometry, quantitative linguistics, digital humanities, spoken Arabic, Afro-Caribbean creole

Receptive multilingualism (RM) is a phenomenon in human communication where the parties involved do not share a language, but they are still able to communicate effectively by virtue of speaking related varieties which are close enough in terms of linguistic distance so as to allow for mutual intelligibility (Gooskens 2019). Typical examples include the Nordic countries (i.e. RM between Danish, Norwegian and Swedish; Delsing and Lundin 2005) or Slavic languages (Golubović 2016). In these scenarios, there may exist asymmetries in mutual intelligibility (MI) between any two individual languages, which are primarily due to linguistic reasons. There exists another type of RM, receptive multilingualism with one dominant variety (RMODV), where one of the varieties in question is the dominant one (‘dominant variety’ or DV) and speakers of the other varieties are much more likely to have been exposed to it, resulting in asymmetrical mutual intelligibility. Typically, the DV is the language of a politically dominant nation or the variety used by a nation/community that is dominant in a soft way, e.g. quantitatively or culturally. There are two typical scenarios of RMODV: one involves the Arabic-speaking world with Egyptian Arabic as the DV, the other can be found in West Africa with West African English-lexifier creoles (WAELC) as the varieties in question and Nigerian Pidgin (Naija) as the DV. In both cases, the DV is of the soft variety and in both case, the situation is further complicated by the existence and use of another variety, termed here the macro variety (MV), a standard/prestige language. For Arabic, this is Modern Standard Arabic; for WAELC, this is English, both languages used almost exclusively in writing and in the public sphere.


Thermophilous oak forests in Slovakia: unrevealing the drivers of plant taxonomic and functional diversity, climate change, and contributions to european diversity

Scientific areas: Community ecology, Plant biology

Keywords: beta diversity, biodiversity conservation, environmental filters, floristic patterns, functional diversity, functional traits

Studies addressing beta diversity patterns from multifaceted perspectives should bring new perspectives towards the understanding of the mechanism maintaining biodiversity, as well as the degree of species specialization among habitats, supporting a more effective conservation practice. In this project, we aim to analyze the taxonomic and functional beta diversity patterns of thermophilous oak forest in Slovakia (THERMOS), in order to identify the main drivers of the observed patterns, and identify the role of the THERMOS as a key area for maintenance of European thermophilous oak forests diversity. The main expected results include: 1. the publication of, at least, two scientific papers in journals with relevant impact in the areas of plant biology, community ecology, and biodiversity conservation; 2. Divulgation in national and international scientific events (e.g., symposiums and conferences); 3. The elaboration of online material with main results to the general non-scientific community to promote the exchange between the scientific community and general society and stakeholders.


MACA-WiFL: Massive Access with Collision Avoidance for next-generation Wi-Fi using Federated Learning

Scientific areas: Wireless Communications, Artificial Intelligence, Federated Learning

Keywords: Massive Access, Wi-Fi, Wireless Communications, Federated Learning

The IEEE 802.11 Working Group (WG) published the first “legacy” 2 Mbps Wi-Fi standard more than two decades ago. Today, the latest IEEE 802.11ax (Wi-Fi 6) newcomer crosses the finish line, boasting a staggering 10 Gbps speed. In May 2014, the IEEE 802.11 WG released Wi-Fi 6 to improve throughput- per-area in high-density circumstances. The initial draft versions of 802.11ax, D1.0 and D2.0, were released in late 2016 and early 2017. Wi-Fi 6 has demonstrated several breakthroughs, including a brand-new multi-access access based (OFDMA), random reuse (SR) technique and multi-user multiple output input extension (mMIMO), power saving progress, etc, which have made this standard a significant step forward in respect for its 802.11ac predecessor. Wireless LAN 6 has been shown to be very successful. While researchers focus on Wi-Fi 6, the next generation Wi-Fi, IEEE 802.11be (Wi-Fi 7), is being created in the bowels of the IEEE 802.11 WG. At first glance, the new IEEE 802.11be Wi-Fi amendment appears to be nothing more than a scaled 11ax with doubled bandwidth and a larger number of spatial streams, which together allow transmission rates of up to 40 Gbps. A bit deeper into 802.11 activities reveals that Wi-Fi 7 is part of the incumbent futuristic wireless networks and tactile internet (TI) support for real time applications beyond fifth generation (B5G) technology. Wi-Fi 7 brings many more ground-breaking innovations to Wi-Fi in real-time applications, laying the groundwork for future Wi-Fi evolution. The examination of the 802.11 Working Group's conversation sheds light on Wi- Fi 7's main advances: native multi-link operation, channel sounding optimization that opens the door for massive MIMO, advanced PHY and MAC schemes, the cooperation of various access points. However, as the number of connected devices grows, the problem of channel resource scarcity in Wi-Fi future applications becomes more visible and significant.


New generation of Parkinson`s disease diagnostic assays

Scientific areas: Neuroscience, Neurodegenerative diseases

Keywords: Parkinson`s diseases, alpha-Synuclein, synucleinopathies, RT-QuIC, ELISA, FLIM, patients, body fluids

The prevalence and incidence of neurodegenerative disorders in the population is constantly increasing and currently represents one of the main challenges of medicine and medical research. The similarity of the clinical and neuropathological features of these diseases, whether we speak of Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease (AD), multiple system atrophy (MSA) or other synucleinopathies, leads to misdiagnosis in up to 20-35% of patients. In addition, current therapy for these diseases is particularly symptomatic. Despite intensive efforts, the development of new and more successful therapeutic approaches is insufficient and fully depends on the early diagnosis of the disease. However, diagnosis currently relies mainly on very non-specific clinical symptoms and its definitive confirmation is still based on post-mortem pathological evaluation 1. One of the problems of current early diagnostics is the lack of sensitivity and specificity of detection methods. The results of individual biochemical or immunohistochemical (IHC) analysis are often controversial. For these reasons, increasing efforts are being made to develop new methods or to optimize existing ones capable of detecting PD in the early stages, as well as to discriminate PD from other synucleinopathies.


Neuropeptides: revealing the secrets of neuronal control and behaviour in tsetse flies

Scientific areas: molecular biology.biochemistry.physiology

Keywords: Glossinidae, neuropeptides, reproductive physiology, biological control

Neuropeptides play a central role in the control of development, reproduction, metabolism, behaviour and many other physiological processes but little is known about their identity, expression and function in vectors of pathogens, such as tse tse flies. Diptera:Glossinidae; tse tse flies are vectors of African trypanosomes, which are of medical and huge economic importance, causing the Human Sleeping Sickness and Animal African Trypanosomiasis - Nagana. Their vectorial capacity results in major public health emergency and vast economic losses in sub-Saharan Africa (Budd 1999, Fevre et al. 2008, Simarro et al. 2008, Steelman 1976).


Effect of linguistic experience on metacognition in language tasks and transfer to non-linguistic behaviour

Scientific areas: cognitive psychology, linguistics, cognitive science

Keywords: bilingualism, decision-making, metacognition, metamonitoring, metacontrol, learning

Living beings – including humans – have to make decisions, evaluate the efficacy of these decisions, and adapt their behavior accordingly, at every moment. This requires evaluating own cognitive processes and states, the available evidence, as well as the degree of uncertainty associated with decisions based on this evidence1. The ability to monitor and regulate one’s own cognitive processes and behavior is referred to as metacognition. It follows from the above, that metacognition has two important components: knowledge about cognition and regulation of cognition, and consequently regulation of optimal behavior2,3. These components are served by different cognitive processes, referring to metacognitive monitoring and metacognitive control4,5. Monitoring processes are aimed to track decisions, cognitive states and behavior in uncertainty situations and estimating retrospective confidence associated with cognitive states and past decisions [Ref. 1]. Control processes are engaged in guiding future behavior, considering one’s current cognitive states and available evidence about the current environment and past outcomes.


Poiesis – generative literature, translation and artistic creation

Scientific areas: Philosophy, Machine Learning, Literature

Keywords: Generative Literature, Poiesis, Technique, Machine Learning, Racism, Feminism, Logical Analysis, Phenomenology, Art

In the proposed research project, we would like to focus on an interdisciplinary analysis of literary discourses in relationship to Machine learning (ML).1 The main goal of our research will be to explore the way in which machines relate to creative production. We will examine the relationship of generative texts to racism, sexism, classism, and social discrimination in general, investigating the critical potential of these technologies, as well as their possible negative impacts. The positive impact brought up by this project is represented by the fruitful questioning of metaphysical, phenomenological and literary categories (e.g., the concept of the author, the concept of minority literature, etc.), or improving accessibility of literary texts and reproduction of minority languages and dialects. The first hypothesis is that Generative Literature has a distinctive character, from a literary and philosophical point of view, and that it can raise and solve interesting philosophical questions. The second hypothesis is that the use of ML can have discriminatory character (racism or sexism circulating in these kinds of generative texts). We will examine the use of these technologies in order to see if it is possible to solve these kinds of ethical biases. These machines are already used by shops in communication with customers, by social institutions seeking to prioritize their operations, and to write tweets. Is it safe to use machines without any control? If control is necessary, how should it be organized and oriented? The third hypothesis is that we can create translations using ML, offering tools that facilitate literary and philosophical translation. Our fourth hypothesis is that ML can be positively used in art. The theoretical perspectives of our research will be Critical Race Theory, Feminism, Postcolonial Studies, Deconstruction, Literary Studies, Phenomenology, Analytic Philosophy, History of Philosophy and Art.


Elucidating the molecular mechanism and metabolic regulation of substrate cycles

Scientific areas: physiology, metabolism, cell biology

Keywords: substrate cycles, energy expenditure, adipose tissue, metabolism, lactate, physiology, obesity

Obesity is one of the major threats to human health, being the primary risk factor for type 2 diabetes, fatty liver disease and cardiovascular complications. Since energy expenditure is increased as a consequence of thermogenesis, pharmacological induction of this process presents an interesting therapeutic approach. Adipose tissue is the main site of nonshivering thermogenesis, and its main effector is uncoupling protein 1. However, mice lacking this classical thermogenic pathway efficiently maintain their body temperature when gradually exposed to cold, suggesting the existence of yet unknown, but equally potent alternative thermogenic mechanisms. Based on my preliminary data, I propose that several substrate cycles operate in adipose tissue and contribute to maintenance of temperature homeostasis, and therefore have therapeutic potential to treat obesity. Specific aims are to 1) experimentally prove the existence, validate the physiological relevance and delineate the molecular mechanism and regulation of substrate cycles; 2) uncover the origin, function and potential of cold-induced lactate to fuel substrate cycles; 3) identify critical and possibly druggable targets for pharmacological modulation of substrate cycles. Comprehensive metabolomic and transcriptomic analyses of human and murine brown and white adipose tissue under different thermal conditions will provide important insights into energetics of these tissues and serve as basis for identification of substrate cycles. I will take advantage of genetic mouse models, cell lines, pharmacological tools and recent experimental developments, in particular employing metabolomic analysis, metabolic tracing, tissue microdialysis, RNA sequencing and bioenergetic measurements, to prove the existence, delineate the molecular mechanism and validate the physiological relevance of substrate cycles.


Discovering Heavy-Atom Main-Group Chemistry with Relativistic DFT and Multireference Calculations

Scientific areas: computational chemistry, inorganic chemistry, main-group chemistry

Keywords: electronic structure, main-group chemistry, relativistic DFT, multireference calculations, bonding/reactivity, magnetic properties, NMR and EPR spectroscopy, metal-free catalysis, materials chemistry

The chemistry of main-group elements is experiencing fantastic progress in recent years, leading to the discovery of novel compounds and materials with fascinating electronic structures and properties.1 Owing to their unique bond-activating reactivities, resemblances to transition-metal compounds, and intriguing photophysical properties, these species have high potentials in e.g. pharmaceutical, agricultural, and renewable energy industries, the latter including the development of PI-conjugated materials as optoelectronic devices for LED and solar-cell applications.2 Such recent developments are not only based on light elements of the second period but also involve the discovery of novel systems based on heavy main-group atoms, including those of the fifth and sixth periods. However, unusual structures and bonding situations are often found for these systems, and some of the compounds are very sensitive to both water and air even using synthetic strategies based on the kinetic protection of reactive centres by adopting sterically demanding ligands. Furthermore, for the calculation of some properties of these compounds, scalar relativistic approaches are often not suitable, and more accurate relativistic methods are needed.


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