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The rapid spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) confronts policy makers with the problem of measuring the effectiveness of containment strategies, balancing public health considerations with the economic costs of social distancing measures. We introduce a modified epidemic model that we name the controlled-SIR model, in which the disease reproduction rate evolves dynamically in response to political and societal reactions. An analytic solution is presented. The model reproduces official COVID-19 cases counts of a large number of regions and countries that surpassed the first peak of the outbreak. A single unbiased feedback parameter is extracted from field data and used to formulate an index that measures the efficiency of containment strategies (the CEI index). CEI values for a range of countries are given. For two variants of the controlled-SIR model, detailed estimates of the total medical and socio-economic costs are evaluated over the entire course of the epidemic. Costs comprise medical care cost, the economic cost of social distancing, as well as the economic value of lives saved. Under plausible parameters, strict measures fare better than a hands-off policy. Strategies based on current case numbers lead to substantially higher total costs than strategies based on the overall history of the epidemic.

Predicting the cumulative medical load of COVID-19 outbreaks after the peak in daily fatalities
(2021)

The distinct ways the COVID-19 pandemic has been unfolding in different countries and regions suggest that local societal and governmental structures play an important role not only for the baseline infection rate, but also for short and long-term reactions to the outbreak. We propose to investigate the question of how societies as a whole, and governments in particular, modulate the dynamics of a novel epidemic using a generalization of the SIR model, the reactive SIR (short-term and long-term reaction) model. We posit that containment measures are equivalent to a feedback between the status of the outbreak and the reproduction factor. Short-term reaction to an outbreak corresponds in this framework to the reaction of governments and individuals to daily cases and fatalities. The reaction to the cumulative number of cases or deaths, and not to daily numbers, is captured in contrast by long-term reaction. We present the exact phase space solution of the controlled SIR model and use it to quantify containment policies for a large number of countries in terms of short and long-term control parameters. We find increased contributions of long-term control for countries and regions in which the outbreak was suppressed substantially together with a strong correlation between the strength of societal and governmental policies and the time needed to contain COVID-19 outbreaks. Furthermore, for numerous countries and regions we identified a predictive relation between the number of fatalities within a fixed period before and after the peak of daily fatality counts, which allows to gauge the cumulative medical load of COVID-19 outbreaks that should be expected after the peak. These results suggest that the proposed model is applicable not only for understanding the outbreak dynamics, but also for predicting future cases and fatalities once the effectiveness of outbreak suppression policies is established with sufficient certainty. Finally, we provide a web app (https://itp.uni-frankfurt.de/covid-19/) with tools for visualising the phase space representation of real-world COVID-19 data and for exporting the preprocessed data for further analysis.

Due to the small photon momentum, optical spectroscopy commonly probes magnetic excitations only at the center of the Brillouin zone; however, there are ways to override this restriction. In case of the distorted kagome quantum magnet Y-kapellasite, Y3Cu9(OH)19Cl8, under scrutiny here, the spin (magnon) density of states (SDOS) can be accessed over the entire Brillouin zone through three-center magnon excitations. This mechanism is aided by the three different magnetic sublattices and strong short-range correlations in the distorted kagome lattice. The results of THz time-domain experiments agree remarkably well with linear spin-wave theory (LSWT). Relaxing the conventional zone-center constraint of photons gives a new aspect to probe magnetism in matter.

Motivated by recent reports of a quantum-disordered ground state in the triangular lattice compound NaRuO2, we derive a jeff = 1/2 magnetic model for this system by means of first-principles calculations. The pseudospin Hamiltonian is dominated by bond-dependent off-diagonal Γ interactions, complemented by a ferromagnetic Heisenberg exchange and a notably antiferromagnetic Kitaev term. In addition to bilinear interactions, we find a sizable four-spin ring exchange contribution with a strongly anisotropic character, which has been so far overlooked when modeling Kitaev materials. The analysis of the magnetic model, based on the minimization of the classical energy and exact diagonalization of the quantum Hamiltonian, points toward the existence of a rather robust easy-plane ferromagnetic order, which cannot be easily destabilized by physically relevant perturbations.

Continued advances in quantum technologies rely on producing nanometer-scale wires. Although several state-of-the-art nanolithographic technologies and bottom-up synthesis processes have been used to engineer these wires, critical challenges remain in growing uniform atomic-scale crystalline wires and constructing their network structures. Here, we discover a simple method to fabricate atomic-scale wires with various arrangements, including stripes, X-junctions, Y-junctions, and nanorings. Single-crystalline atomic-scale wires of a Mott insulator, whose bandgap is comparable to those of wide-gap semiconductors, are spontaneously grown on graphite substrates by pulsed-laser deposition. These wires are one unit cell thick and have an exact width of two and four unit cells (1.4 and 2.8 nm) and lengths up to a few micrometers. We show that the nonequilibrium reaction-diffusion processes may play an essential role in atomic pattern formation. Our findings offer a previously unknown perspective on the nonequilibrium self-organization phenomena on an atomic scale, paving a unique way for the quantum architecture of nano-network.

Electronic and magnetic properties of the RuX3 (X=Cl, Br, I) family: two siblings - and a cousin?
(2022)

Motivated by reports of metallic behavior in the recently synthesized RuI3, in contrast to the Mott-insulating nature of the actively discussed α-RuCl3, as well as RuBr3, we present a detailed comparative analysis of the electronic and magnetic properties of this family of trihalides. Using a combination of first-principles calculations and effective-model considerations, we conclude that RuI3, similarly to the other two members, is most probably on the verge of a Mott insulator, but with much smaller magnetic moments and strong magnetic frustration. We predict the ideal pristine crystal of RuI3 to have a nearly vanishing conventional nearest-neighbor Heisenberg interaction and to be a quantum spin liquid candidate of a possibly different kind than the Kitaev spin liquid. In order to understand the apparent contradiction to the reported resistivity ρ, we analyze the experimental evidence for all three compounds and propose a scenario for the observed metallicity in existing samples of RuI3. Furthermore, for the Mott insulator RuBr3, we obtain a magnetic Hamiltonian of a similar form to that in the much-discussed α-RuCl3 and show that this Hamiltonian is in agreement with experimental evidence in RuBr3.

Recent experimental findings have reported the presence of unconventional charge orders in the enlarged (2 × 2) unit-cell of kagome metals AV3Sb5 (A = K, Rb, Cs) and hinted towards specific topological signatures. Motivated by these discoveries, we investigate the types of topological phases that can be realized in such kagome superlattices. In this context, we employ a recently introduced statistical method capable of constructing topological models for any generic lattice. By analyzing large data sets generated from symmetry-guided distributions of randomized tight-binding parameters, and labeled with the corresponding topological index, we extract physically meaningful information. We illustrate the possible real-space manifestations of charge and bond modulations and associated flux patterns for different topological classes, and discuss their relation to present theoretical predictions and experimental signatures for the AV3Sb5 family. Simultaneously, we predict higher-order topological phases that may be realized by appropriately manipulating the currently known systems.

Electron beam-induced deposition with tungsten hexacarbonyl W(CO)6 as precursors leads to granular deposits with varying compositions of tungsten, carbon and oxygen. Depending on the deposition conditions, the deposits are insulating or metallic. We employ an evolutionary algorithm to predict the crystal structures starting from a series of chemical compositions that were determined experimentally. We show that this method leads to better structures than structural relaxation based on estimated initial structures. We approximate the expected amorphous structures by reasonably large unit cells that can accommodate local structural environments that resemble the true amorphous structure. Our predicted structures show an insulator-to-metal transition close to the experimental composition at which this transition is actually observed and they also allow comparison with experimental electron diffraction patterns.

We present experimental results and theoretical simulations of the adsorption behavior of the metal–organic precursor Co2(CO)8 on SiO2 surfaces after application of two different pretreatment steps, namely by air plasma cleaning or a focused electron beam pre-irradiation. We observe a spontaneous dissociation of the precursor molecules as well as autodeposition of cobalt on the pretreated SiO2 surfaces. We also find that the differences in metal content and relative stability of these deposits depend on the pretreatment conditions of the substrate. Transport measurements of these deposits are also presented. We are led to assume that the degree of passivation of the SiO2 surface by hydroxyl groups is an important controlling factor in the dissociation process. Our calculations of various slab settings, using dispersion-corrected density functional theory, support this assumption. We observe physisorption of the precursor molecule on a fully hydroxylated SiO2 surface (untreated surface) and chemisorption on a partially hydroxylated SiO2 surface (pretreated surface) with a spontaneous dissociation of the precursor molecule. In view of these calculations, we discuss the origin of this dissociation and the subsequent autocatalysis.