Research Highlights: New Journal Focus

Starting a new journal is not always an easy enterprise. In particular, attracting high quality papers without an established reputation is a challenge for the editors. On the other hand, a new open access journal can present an opportunity for authors to take advantage of the ready availability of open access with a reduced or no charge.

Here we showcase research published in some of MDPI’s newest journals that received very positive feedback during the review process. You can find a list of all MDPI journals, including the year they were established, on our website.


gels-01On the Road to Biopolymer Aerogels—Dealing with the Solvent

Raman Subrahmanyam, Pavel Gurikov, Paul Dieringer, Miaotian Sun and Irina Smirnova

Aerogels are three-dimensional ultra-light porous structures whose characteristics make them exciting candidates for research, development and commercialization leading to a broad scope of applications ranging from insulation and catalysis to regenerative medicine and pharmaceuticals. Biopolymers have recently entered the aerogel foray. In order to fully realize their potential, progressive strategies dealing with production times and costs reduction must be put in place to facilitate the scale up of aerogel production from lab to commercial scale. The necessity of studying solvent/matrix interactions during solvent exchange and supercritical CO2 drying is presented in this study using calcium alginate as a model system. Four frameworks, namely (a) solvent selection methodology based on solvent/polymer interaction; (b) concentration gradient influence during solvent exchange; (c) solvent exchange kinetics based on pseudo second order model; and (d) minimum solvent concentration requirements for supercritical CO2 drying, are suggested that could help assess the role of the solvent in biopolymer aerogel production.


recycling-logoDo Eco-Fees Encourage Design for the Environment? The Relationship between Environmental Handling Fees and Recycling Rates for Printed Paper and Packaging

Calvin Lakhan

This study undertook a critical examination of Ontario’s extended producer responsibility scheme for the residential “Blue Box” recycling program, specifically examining the relationship between packaging fee rates and material-specific recycling rates. Using data collected for each of the 23 materials found in the residential recycling program over the past decade, a regression model was developed to gauge what relationship (if any) packaging recycling rates have with fee rates, costs of material management and revenue from the sale of recyclable material. The modeling in this study indicates that packaging fee rates have no effect on packaging recycling rates. Recycling rates were positively correlated with material revenue and negatively correlated with material management costs. There is no evidence that suggests that Ontario’s fee model used to allocate environmental handling fees to individual materials encourages waste diversion or design for the environment. The disconnect in the results and the intended function of packaging fee rates calls into question the appropriateness of Ontario’s fee rate methodology.


biomimetics_web_72dpiSwitchable Adhesion Surfaces with Enhanced Performance Against Rough Counterfaces

Lizbeth O. Prieto-López, and John A. Williams

In a recent study, we demonstrated that the pressurization of micro-fluidic features introduced in the subsurface of a soft polymer can be used to actively modify the magnitude of the adhesion to a harder counterface by changing its waviness or long wavelength undulations. In that case, both contacting surfaces had very smooth finishes with root-mean-square roughnesses of less than 20 nm. These values are far from those of many engineering surfaces, which usually have a naturally occurring roughness of between ten and a hundred times this value. In this work, we demonstrate that appropriate surface features, specifically relatively slender “fibrils”, can enhance the ability of a such a soft surface to adhere to a hard, but macroscopically rough, counterface, while still maintaining the possibility of switching the adhesion force from one level to another. Conversely, stiffer more conical surface features can suppress adhesion even against a smooth counterface. Examples of each form of topography can be found in the natural world.


magnetochemistry-logoSpin-Crossover Behavior of Hofmann-Type-Like Complex Fe(4,4’-bipyridine)Ni(CN)4·nH2O Depending on Guest Species

Kazumasa Hosoya, Shin-ichi Nishikiori, Masashi Takahashi, and Takafumi Kitazawa

A newly prepared metal complex Fe(4,4’-bipyridine)Ni(CN)4·nH2O, which was estimated to have a structure similar to the Hofmann-type clathrate host, changed its color from orange to deep orange and yellow on exposure to ethanol and acetone vapor, respectively, and the respective samples showed thermally induced two-step and one-step spin transitions.