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2019


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Active Perception based Formation Control for Multiple Aerial Vehicles

Tallamraju, R., Price, E., Ludwig, R., Karlapalem, K., Bülthoff, H. H., Black, M. J., Ahmad, A.

IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters, Robotics and Automation Letters, IEEE, August 2019 (article) Accepted

Abstract
We present a novel robotic front-end for autonomous aerial motion-capture (mocap) in outdoor environments. In previous work, we presented an approach for cooperative detection and tracking (CDT) of a subject using multiple micro-aerial vehicles (MAVs). However, it did not ensure optimal view-point configurations of the MAVs to minimize the uncertainty in the person's cooperatively tracked 3D position estimate. In this article, we introduce an active approach for CDT. In contrast to cooperatively tracking only the 3D positions of the person, the MAVs can actively compute optimal local motion plans, resulting in optimal view-point configurations, which minimize the uncertainty in the tracked estimate. We achieve this by decoupling the goal of active tracking into a quadratic objective and non-convex constraints corresponding to angular configurations of the MAVs w.r.t. the person. We derive this decoupling using Gaussian observation model assumptions within the CDT algorithm. We preserve convexity in optimization by embedding all the non-convex constraints, including those for dynamic obstacle avoidance, as external control inputs in the MPC dynamics. Multiple real robot experiments and comparisons involving 3 MAVs in several challenging scenarios are presented.

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pdf Project Page [BibTex]

2019


pdf Project Page [BibTex]


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Learning and Tracking the 3D Body Shape of Freely Moving Infants from RGB-D sequences

Hesse, N., Pujades, S., Black, M., Arens, M., Hofmann, U., Schroeder, S.

Transactions on Pattern Analysis and Machine Intelligence (TPAMI), 2019 (article)

Abstract
Statistical models of the human body surface are generally learned from thousands of high-quality 3D scans in predefined poses to cover the wide variety of human body shapes and articulations. Acquisition of such data requires expensive equipment, calibration procedures, and is limited to cooperative subjects who can understand and follow instructions, such as adults. We present a method for learning a statistical 3D Skinned Multi-Infant Linear body model (SMIL) from incomplete, low-quality RGB-D sequences of freely moving infants. Quantitative experiments show that SMIL faithfully represents the RGB-D data and properly factorizes the shape and pose of the infants. To demonstrate the applicability of SMIL, we fit the model to RGB-D sequences of freely moving infants and show, with a case study, that our method captures enough motion detail for General Movements Assessment (GMA), a method used in clinical practice for early detection of neurodevelopmental disorders in infants. SMIL provides a new tool for analyzing infant shape and movement and is a step towards an automated system for GMA.

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pdf Journal DOI [BibTex]

pdf Journal DOI [BibTex]


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Perceptual Effects of Inconsistency in Human Animations

Kenny, S., Mahmood, N., Honda, C., Black, M. J., Troje, N. F.

ACM Trans. Appl. Percept., 16(1):2:1-2:18, Febuary 2019 (article)

Abstract
The individual shape of the human body, including the geometry of its articulated structure and the distribution of weight over that structure, influences the kinematics of a person’s movements. How sensitive is the visual system to inconsistencies between shape and motion introduced by retargeting motion from one person onto the shape of another? We used optical motion capture to record five pairs of male performers with large differences in body weight, while they pushed, lifted, and threw objects. From these data, we estimated both the kinematics of the actions as well as the performer’s individual body shape. To obtain consistent and inconsistent stimuli, we created animated avatars by combining the shape and motion estimates from either a single performer or from different performers. Using these stimuli we conducted three experiments in an immersive virtual reality environment. First, a group of participants detected which of two stimuli was inconsistent. Performance was very low, and results were only marginally significant. Next, a second group of participants rated perceived attractiveness, eeriness, and humanness of consistent and inconsistent stimuli, but these judgements of animation characteristics were not affected by consistency of the stimuli. Finally, a third group of participants rated properties of the objects rather than of the performers. Here, we found strong influences of shape-motion inconsistency on perceived weight and thrown distance of objects. This suggests that the visual system relies on its knowledge of shape and motion and that these components are assimilated into an altered perception of the action outcome. We propose that the visual system attempts to resist inconsistent interpretations of human animations. Actions involving object manipulations present an opportunity for the visual system to reinterpret the introduced inconsistencies as a change in the dynamics of an object rather than as an unexpected combination of body shape and body motion.

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publisher pdf DOI [BibTex]

publisher pdf DOI [BibTex]


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The Perception of Ultrasonic Square Reductions of Friction With Variable Sharpness and Duration

Gueorguiev, D., Vezzoli, E., Sednaoui, T., Grisoni, L., Lemaire-Semail, B.

IEEE Transactions on Haptics, 12(2):179-188, January 2019 (article)

Abstract
The human perception of square ultrasonic modulation of the finger-surface friction was investigated during active tactile exploration by using short frictional cues of varying duration and sharpness. In a first experiment, we asked participants to discriminate the transition time and duration of short square ultrasonic reductions of friction. They proved very sensitive to discriminate millisecond differences in these two parameters with the average psychophysical thresholds being 2.3–2.4 ms for both parameters. A second experiment focused on the perception of square friction reductions with variable transition times and durations. We found that for durations of the stimulation larger than 90 ms, participants often perceived three or four edges when only two stimulations were presented while they consistently felt two edges for signals shorter than 50 ms. A subsequent analysis of the contact forces induced by these ultrasonic stimulations during slow and fast active exploration showed that two identical consecutive ultrasonic pulses can induce significantly different frictional dynamics especially during fast motion of the finger. These results confirm the human sensitivity to transient frictional cues and suggest that the human perception of square reductions of friction can depend on their sharpness and duration as well as on the speed of exploration.

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DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


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How Does It Feel to Clap Hands with a Robot?

Fitter, N. T., Kuchenbecker, K. J.

International Journal of Social Robotics, 2019 (article) Accepted

Abstract
Future robots may need lighthearted physical interaction capabilities to connect with people in meaningful ways. To begin exploring how users perceive playful human–robot hand-to-hand interaction, we conducted a study with 20 participants. Each user played simple hand-clapping games with the Rethink Robotics Baxter Research Robot during a 1-h-long session involving 24 randomly ordered conditions that varied in facial reactivity, physical reactivity, arm stiffness, and clapping tempo. Survey data and experiment recordings demonstrate that this interaction is viable: all users successfully completed the experiment and mentioned enjoying at least one game without prompting. Hand-clapping tempo was highly salient to users, and human-like robot errors were more widely accepted than mechanical errors. Furthermore, perceptions of Baxter varied in the following statistically significant ways: facial reactivity increased the robot’s perceived pleasantness and energeticness; physical reactivity decreased pleasantness, energeticness, and dominance; higher arm stiffness increased safety and decreased dominance; and faster tempo increased energeticness and increased dominance. These findings can motivate and guide roboticists who want to design social–physical human–robot interactions.

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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X-ray Optics Fabrication Using Unorthodox Approaches

Sanli, U., Baluktsian, M., Ceylan, H., Sitti, M., Weigand, M., Schütz, G., Keskinbora, K.

Bulletin of the American Physical Society, APS, 2019 (article)

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Nanoscale detection of spin wave deflection angles in permalloy

Gross, F., Träger, N., Förster, J., Weigand, M., Schütz, G., Gräfe, J.

{Applied Physics Letters}, 114(1), American Institute of Physics, Melville, NY, 2019 (article)

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DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


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Coherent excitation of heterosymmetric spin waves with ultrashort wavelengths

Dieterle, G., Förster, J., Stoll, H., Semisalova, A. S., Finizio, S., Gangwar, A., Weigand, M., Noske, M., Fähnle, M., Bykova, I., Gräfe, J., Bozhko, D. A., Musiienko-Shmarova, H. Y., Tiberkevich, V., Slavin, A. N., Back, C. H., Raabe, J., Schütz, G., Wintz, S.

{Physical Review Letters}, 122(11), American Physical Society, Woodbury, N.Y., 2019 (article)

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DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


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Reprogrammability and Scalability of Magnonic Fibonacci Quasicrystals

Lisiecki, F., Rychły, J., Kuświk, P., Głowiński, H., Kłos, J. W., Groß, F., Bykova, I., Weigand, M., Zelent, M., Goering, E. J., Schütz, G., Gubbiotti, G., Krawczyk, M., Stobiecki, F., Dubowik, J., Gräfe, J.

Physical Review Applied, 11, pages: 054003, 2019 (article)

Abstract
Magnonic crystals are systems that can be used to design and tune the dynamic properties of magnetization. Here, we focus on one-dimensional Fibonacci magnonic quasicrystals. We confirm the existence of collective spin waves propagating through the structure as well as dispersionless modes; the reprogammability of the resonance frequencies, dependent on the magnetization order; and dynamic spin-wave interactions. With the fundamental understanding of these properties, we lay a foundation for the scalable and advanced design of spin-wave band structures for spintronic, microwave, and magnonic applications.

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link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


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The Virtual Caliper: Rapid Creation of Metrically Accurate Avatars from 3D Measurements

Pujades, S., Mohler, B., Thaler, A., Tesch, J., Mahmood, N., Hesse, N., Bülthoff, H. H., Black, M. J.

IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics, 25, pages: 1887,1897, IEEE, 2019 (article)

Abstract
Creating metrically accurate avatars is important for many applications such as virtual clothing try-on, ergonomics, medicine, immersive social media, telepresence, and gaming. Creating avatars that precisely represent a particular individual is challenging however, due to the need for expensive 3D scanners, privacy issues with photographs or videos, and difficulty in making accurate tailoring measurements. We overcome these challenges by creating “The Virtual Caliper”, which uses VR game controllers to make simple measurements. First, we establish what body measurements users can reliably make on their own body. We find several distance measurements to be good candidates and then verify that these are linearly related to 3D body shape as represented by the SMPL body model. The Virtual Caliper enables novice users to accurately measure themselves and create an avatar with their own body shape. We evaluate the metric accuracy relative to ground truth 3D body scan data, compare the method quantitatively to other avatar creation tools, and perform extensive perceptual studies. We also provide a software application to the community that enables novices to rapidly create avatars in fewer than five minutes. Not only is our approach more rapid than existing methods, it exports a metrically accurate 3D avatar model that is rigged and skinned.

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Project Page IEEE Open Access IEEE Open Access PDF DOI [BibTex]

Project Page IEEE Open Access IEEE Open Access PDF DOI [BibTex]


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Magnons in a Quasicrystal: Propagation, Extinction, and Localization of Spin Waves in Fibonacci Structures

Lisiecki, F., Rychły, J., Kuświk, P., Głowiński, H., Kłos, J. W., Groß, F., Träger, N., Bykova, I., Weigand, M., Zelent, M., Goering, E. J., Schütz, G., Krawczyk, M., Stobiecki, F., Dubowik, J., Gräfe, J.

Physical Review Applied, 11, pages: 054061, 2019 (article)

Abstract
Magnonic quasicrystals exceed the possibilities of spin-wave (SW) manipulation offered by regular magnonic crystals, because of their more complex SW spectra with fractal characteristics. Here, we report the direct x-ray microscopic observation of propagating SWs in a magnonic quasicrystal, consisting of dipolar coupled permalloy nanowires arranged in a one-dimensional Fibonacci sequence. SWs from the first and second band as well as evanescent waves from the band gap between them are imaged. Moreover, additional mini band gaps in the spectrum are demonstrated, directly indicating an influence of the quasiperiodicity of the system. Finally, the localization of SW modes within the Fibonacci crystal is shown. The experimental results are interpreted using numerical calculations and we deduce a simple model to estimate the frequency position of the magnonic gaps in quasiperiodic structures. The demonstrated features of SW spectra in one-dimensional magnonic quasicrystals allow utilizing this class of metamaterials for magnonics and make them an ideal basis for future applications.

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link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


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Interpreting first-order reversal curves beyond the Preisach model: An experimental permalloy microarray investigation

Groß, F., Ilse, S. E., Schütz, G., Gräfe, J., Goering, E.

{Physical Review B}, 99(6), American Physical Society, Woodbury, NY, 2019 (article)

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DOI [BibTex]


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Bistability of magnetic states in Fe-Pd nanocap arrays

Aravind, P. B., Heigl, M., Fix, M., Groß, F., Gräfe, J., Mary, A., Rajgowrav, C. R., Krupiński, M., Marszałek, M., Thomas, S., Anantharaman, M. R., Albrecht, M.

Nanotechnology, 30, pages: 405705, 2019 (article)

Abstract
Magnetic bistability between vortex and single domain states in nanostructures are of great interest from both fundamental and technological perspectives. In soft magnetic nanostructures, the transition from a uniform collinear magnetic state to a vortex state (or vice versa) induced by a magnetic field involves an energy barrier. If the thermal energy is large enough for overcoming this energy barrier, magnetic bistability with a hysteresis-free switching occurs between the two magnetic states. In this work, we tune this energy barrier by tailoring the composition of FePd alloys, which were deposited onto self-assembled particle arrays forming magnetic vortex structures on top of the particles. The bifurcation temperature, where a hysteresis-free transition occurs, was extracted from the temperature dependence of the annihilation and nucleation field which increases almost linearly with Fe content of the magnetic alloy. This study provides insights into the magnetization reversal process associated with magnetic bistability, which allows adjusting the bifurcation temperature range by the material properties of the nanosystem.

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link (url) [BibTex]

link (url) [BibTex]


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Artifacts from manganese reduction in rock samples prepared by focused ion beam (FIB) slicing for X-ray microspectroscopy

Macholdt, D. S., Förster, J., Müller, M., Weber, B., Kappl, M., Kilcoyne, A. L. D., Weigand, M., Leitner, J., Jochum, K. P., Pöhlker, C., Andreae, M. O.

{Geoscientific instrumentation, methods and data systems}, 8(1):97-111, Copernicus Publ., Göttingen, 2019 (article)

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DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


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Mixed-state magnetotransport properties of MgB2 thin film prepared by pulsed laser deposition on an Al2O3 substrate

Alzayed, N. S., Shahabuddin, M., Ramey, S. M., Soltan, S.

{Journal of Materials Science: Materials in Electronics}, 30(2):1547-1552, Springer, Norwell, MA, 2019 (article)

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DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


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Comparison of theories of fast and ultrafast magnetization dynamics

Fähnle, M.

{Journal of Magnetism and Magnetic Materials}, 469, pages: 28-29, NH, Elsevier, Amsterdam, 2019 (article)

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DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


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Concepts for improving hydrogen storage in nanoporous materials

Broom, D. P., Webb, C. J., Fanourgakis, G. S., Froudakis, G. E., Trikalitis, P. N., Hirscher, M.

{International Journal of Hydrogen Energy}, 44(15):7768-7779, Elsevier, Amsterdam, 2019 (article)

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DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


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Controlling dislocation nucleation-mediatd plasticity in nanostructures via surface modification

Shin, J., Chen, L. Y., Sanli, U. T., Richter, G., Labat, S., Richard, M., Cornelius, T., Thomas, O., Gianola, D. S.

{Acta Materialia}, 166, pages: 572-586, Elsevier Science, Kidlington, 2019 (article)

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DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]

2018


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Deep Inertial Poser: Learning to Reconstruct Human Pose from Sparse Inertial Measurements in Real Time

Huang, Y., Kaufmann, M., Aksan, E., Black, M. J., Hilliges, O., Pons-Moll, G.

ACM Transactions on Graphics, (Proc. SIGGRAPH Asia), 37, pages: 185:1-185:15, ACM, November 2018, Two first authors contributed equally (article)

Abstract
We demonstrate a novel deep neural network capable of reconstructing human full body pose in real-time from 6 Inertial Measurement Units (IMUs) worn on the user's body. In doing so, we address several difficult challenges. First, the problem is severely under-constrained as multiple pose parameters produce the same IMU orientations. Second, capturing IMU data in conjunction with ground-truth poses is expensive and difficult to do in many target application scenarios (e.g., outdoors). Third, modeling temporal dependencies through non-linear optimization has proven effective in prior work but makes real-time prediction infeasible. To address this important limitation, we learn the temporal pose priors using deep learning. To learn from sufficient data, we synthesize IMU data from motion capture datasets. A bi-directional RNN architecture leverages past and future information that is available at training time. At test time, we deploy the network in a sliding window fashion, retaining real time capabilities. To evaluate our method, we recorded DIP-IMU, a dataset consisting of 10 subjects wearing 17 IMUs for validation in 64 sequences with 330,000 time instants; this constitutes the largest IMU dataset publicly available. We quantitatively evaluate our approach on multiple datasets and show results from a real-time implementation. DIP-IMU and the code are available for research purposes.

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data code pdf preprint video DOI Project Page [BibTex]

2018


data code pdf preprint video DOI Project Page [BibTex]


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Deep Neural Network-based Cooperative Visual Tracking through Multiple Micro Aerial Vehicles

Price, E., Lawless, G., Ludwig, R., Martinovic, I., Buelthoff, H. H., Black, M. J., Ahmad, A.

IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters, Robotics and Automation Letters, 3(4):3193-3200, IEEE, October 2018, Also accepted and presented in the 2018 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS). (article)

Abstract
Multi-camera tracking of humans and animals in outdoor environments is a relevant and challenging problem. Our approach to it involves a team of cooperating micro aerial vehicles (MAVs) with on-board cameras only. DNNs often fail at objects with small scale or far away from the camera, which are typical characteristics of a scenario with aerial robots. Thus, the core problem addressed in this paper is how to achieve on-board, online, continuous and accurate vision-based detections using DNNs for visual person tracking through MAVs. Our solution leverages cooperation among multiple MAVs and active selection of most informative regions of image. We demonstrate the efficiency of our approach through simulations with up to 16 robots and real robot experiments involving two aerial robots tracking a person, while maintaining an active perception-driven formation. ROS-based source code is provided for the benefit of the community.

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Published Version link (url) DOI [BibTex]

Published Version link (url) DOI [BibTex]


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Softness, Warmth, and Responsiveness Improve Robot Hugs

Block, A. E., Kuchenbecker, K. J.

International Journal of Social Robotics, 11(1):49-64, October 2018 (article)

Abstract
Hugs are one of the first forms of contact and affection humans experience. Due to their prevalence and health benefits, roboticists are naturally interested in having robots one day hug humans as seamlessly as humans hug other humans. This project's purpose is to evaluate human responses to different robot physical characteristics and hugging behaviors. Specifically, we aim to test the hypothesis that a soft, warm, touch-sensitive PR2 humanoid robot can provide humans with satisfying hugs by matching both their hugging pressure and their hugging duration. Thirty relatively young and rather technical participants experienced and evaluated twelve hugs with the robot, divided into three randomly ordered trials that focused on physical robot characteristics (single factor, three levels) and nine randomly ordered trials with low, medium, and high hug pressure and duration (two factors, three levels each). Analysis of the results showed that people significantly prefer soft, warm hugs over hard, cold hugs. Furthermore, users prefer hugs that physically squeeze them and release immediately when they are ready for the hug to end. Taking part in the experiment also significantly increased positive user opinions of robots and robot use.

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link (url) DOI Project Page [BibTex]

link (url) DOI Project Page [BibTex]


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First Impressions of Personality Traits From Body Shapes

Hu, Y., Parde, C. J., Hill, M. Q., Mahmood, N., O’Toole, A. J.

Psychological Science, 29(12):1969-–1983, October 2018 (article)

Abstract
People infer the personalities of others from their facial appearance. Whether they do so from body shapes is less studied. We explored personality inferences made from body shapes. Participants rated personality traits for male and female bodies generated with a three-dimensional body model. Multivariate spaces created from these ratings indicated that people evaluate bodies on valence and agency in ways that directly contrast positive and negative traits from the Big Five domains. Body-trait stereotypes based on the trait ratings revealed a myriad of diverse body shapes that typify individual traits. Personality-trait profiles were predicted reliably from a subset of the body-shape features used to specify the three-dimensional bodies. Body features related to extraversion and conscientiousness were predicted with the highest consensus, followed by openness traits. This study provides the first comprehensive look at the range, diversity, and reliability of personality inferences that people make from body shapes.

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publisher site pdf DOI [BibTex]

publisher site pdf DOI [BibTex]


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Visual Perception and Evaluation of Photo-Realistic Self-Avatars From 3D Body Scans in Males and Females

Thaler, A., Piryankova, I., Stefanucci, J. K., Pujades, S., de la Rosa, S., Streuber, S., Romero, J., Black, M. J., Mohler, B. J.

Frontiers in ICT, 5, pages: 1-14, September 2018 (article)

Abstract
The creation or streaming of photo-realistic self-avatars is important for virtual reality applications that aim for perception and action to replicate real world experience. The appearance and recognition of a digital self-avatar may be especially important for applications related to telepresence, embodied virtual reality, or immersive games. We investigated gender differences in the use of visual cues (shape, texture) of a self-avatar for estimating body weight and evaluating avatar appearance. A full-body scanner was used to capture each participant's body geometry and color information and a set of 3D virtual avatars with realistic weight variations was created based on a statistical body model. Additionally, a second set of avatars was created with an average underlying body shape matched to each participant’s height and weight. In four sets of psychophysical experiments, the influence of visual cues on the accuracy of body weight estimation and the sensitivity to weight changes was assessed by manipulating body shape (own, average) and texture (own photo-realistic, checkerboard). The avatars were presented on a large-screen display, and participants responded to whether the avatar's weight corresponded to their own weight. Participants also adjusted the avatar's weight to their desired weight and evaluated the avatar's appearance with regard to similarity to their own body, uncanniness, and their willingness to accept it as a digital representation of the self. The results of the psychophysical experiments revealed no gender difference in the accuracy of estimating body weight in avatars. However, males accepted a larger weight range of the avatars as corresponding to their own. In terms of the ideal body weight, females but not males desired a thinner body. With regard to the evaluation of avatar appearance, the questionnaire responses suggest that own photo-realistic texture was more important to males for higher similarity ratings, while own body shape seemed to be more important to females. These results argue for gender-specific considerations when creating self-avatars.

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pdf DOI [BibTex]

pdf DOI [BibTex]


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Instrumentation, Data, and Algorithms for Visually Understanding Haptic Surface Properties

Burka, A. L.

University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, USA, August 2018, Department of Electrical and Systems Engineering (phdthesis)

Abstract
Autonomous robots need to efficiently walk over varied surfaces and grasp diverse objects. We hypothesize that the association between how such surfaces look and how they physically feel during contact can be learned from a database of matched haptic and visual data recorded from various end-effectors' interactions with hundreds of real-world surfaces. Testing this hypothesis required the creation of a new multimodal sensing apparatus, the collection of a large multimodal dataset, and development of a machine-learning pipeline. This thesis begins by describing the design and construction of the Portable Robotic Optical/Tactile ObservatioN PACKage (PROTONPACK, or Proton for short), an untethered handheld sensing device that emulates the capabilities of the human senses of vision and touch. Its sensory modalities include RGBD vision, egomotion, contact force, and contact vibration. Three interchangeable end-effectors (a steel tooling ball, an OptoForce three-axis force sensor, and a SynTouch BioTac artificial fingertip) allow for different material properties at the contact point and provide additional tactile data. We then detail the calibration process for the motion and force sensing systems, as well as several proof-of-concept surface discrimination experiments that demonstrate the reliability of the device and the utility of the data it collects. This thesis then presents a large-scale dataset of multimodal surface interaction recordings, including 357 unique surfaces such as furniture, fabrics, outdoor fixtures, and items from several private and public material sample collections. Each surface was touched with one, two, or three end-effectors, comprising approximately one minute per end-effector of tapping and dragging at various forces and speeds. We hope that the larger community of robotics researchers will find broad applications for the published dataset. Lastly, we demonstrate an algorithm that learns to estimate haptic surface properties given visual input. Surfaces were rated on hardness, roughness, stickiness, and temperature by the human experimenter and by a pool of purely visual observers. Then we trained an algorithm to perform the same task as well as infer quantitative properties calculated from the haptic data. Overall, the task of predicting haptic properties from vision alone proved difficult for both humans and computers, but a hybrid algorithm using a deep neural network and a support vector machine achieved a correlation between expected and actual regression output between approximately ρ = 0.3 and ρ = 0.5 on previously unseen surfaces.

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Project Page [BibTex]

Project Page [BibTex]


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Robust Visual Augmented Reality in Robot-Assisted Surgery

Forte, M. P.

Politecnico di Milano, Milan, Italy, July 2018, Department of Electronic, Information, and Biomedical Engineering (mastersthesis)

Abstract
The broader research objective of this line of research is to test the hypothesis that real-time stereo video analysis and augmented reality can increase safety and task efficiency in robot-assisted surgery. This master’s thesis aims to solve the first step needed to achieve this goal: the creation of a robust system that delivers the envisioned feedback to a surgeon while he or she controls a surgical robot that is identical to those used on human patients. Several approaches for applying augmented reality to da Vinci Surgical Systems have been proposed, but none of them entirely rely on a clinical robot; specifically, they require additional sensors, depend on access to the da Vinci API, are designed for a very specific task, or were tested on systems that are starkly different from those in clinical use. There has also been prior work that presents the real-world camera view and the computer graphics on separate screens, or not in real time. In other scenarios, the digital information is overlaid manually by the surgeons themselves or by computer scientists, rather than being generated automatically in response to the surgeon’s actions. We attempted to overcome the aforementioned constraints by acquiring input signals from the da Vinci stereo endoscope and providing augmented reality to the console in real time (less than 150 ms delay, including the 62 ms of inherent latency of the da Vinci). The potential benefits of the resulting system are broad because it was built to be general, rather than customized for any specific task. The entire platform is compatible with any generation of the da Vinci System and does not require a dVRK (da Vinci Research Kit) or access to the API. Thus, it can be applied to existing da Vinci Systems in operating rooms around the world.

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Project Page [BibTex]

Project Page [BibTex]


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Task-Driven PCA-Based Design Optimization of Wearable Cutaneous Devices

Pacchierotti, C., Young, E. M., Kuchenbecker, K. J.

IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters, 3(3):2214-2221, July 2018, Presented at ICRA 2018 (article)

Abstract
Small size and low weight are critical requirements for wearable and portable haptic interfaces, making it essential to work toward the optimization of their sensing and actuation systems. This paper presents a new approach for task-driven design optimization of fingertip cutaneous haptic devices. Given one (or more) target tactile interactions to render and a cutaneous device to optimize, we evaluate the minimum number and best configuration of the device’s actuators to minimize the estimated haptic rendering error. First, we calculate the motion needed for the original cutaneous device to render the considered target interaction. Then, we run a principal component analysis (PCA) to search for possible couplings between the original motor inputs, looking also for the best way to reconfigure them. If some couplings exist, we can re-design our cutaneous device with fewer motors, optimally configured to render the target tactile sensation. The proposed approach is quite general and can be applied to different tactile sensors and cutaneous devices. We validated it using a BioTac tactile sensor and custom plate-based 3-DoF and 6-DoF fingertip cutaneous devices, considering six representative target tactile interactions. The algorithm was able to find couplings between each device’s motor inputs, proving it to be a viable approach to optimize the design of wearable and portable cutaneous devices. Finally, we present two examples of optimized designs for our 3-DoF fingertip cutaneous device.

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link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


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Robust Physics-based Motion Retargeting with Realistic Body Shapes

Borno, M. A., Righetti, L., Black, M. J., Delp, S. L., Fiume, E., Romero, J.

Computer Graphics Forum, 37, pages: 6:1-12, July 2018 (article)

Abstract
Motion capture is often retargeted to new, and sometimes drastically different, characters. When the characters take on realistic human shapes, however, we become more sensitive to the motion looking right. This means adapting it to be consistent with the physical constraints imposed by different body shapes. We show how to take realistic 3D human shapes, approximate them using a simplified representation, and animate them so that they move realistically using physically-based retargeting. We develop a novel spacetime optimization approach that learns and robustly adapts physical controllers to new bodies and constraints. The approach automatically adapts the motion of the mocap subject to the body shape of a target subject. This motion respects the physical properties of the new body and every body shape results in a different and appropriate movement. This makes it easy to create a varied set of motions from a single mocap sequence by simply varying the characters. In an interactive environment, successful retargeting requires adapting the motion to unexpected external forces. We achieve robustness to such forces using a novel LQR-tree formulation. We show that the simulated motions look appropriate to each character’s anatomy and their actions are robust to perturbations.

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pdf video Project Page Project Page [BibTex]

pdf video Project Page Project Page [BibTex]


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Teaching a Robot Bimanual Hand-Clapping Games via Wrist-Worn IMUs

Fitter, N. T., Kuchenbecker, K. J.

Frontiers in Robotics and Artificial Intelligence, 5(85), July 2018 (article)

Abstract
Colleagues often shake hands in greeting, friends connect through high fives, and children around the world rejoice in hand-clapping games. As robots become more common in everyday human life, they will have the opportunity to join in these social-physical interactions, but few current robots are intended to touch people in friendly ways. This article describes how we enabled a Baxter Research Robot to both teach and learn bimanual hand-clapping games with a human partner. Our system monitors the user's motions via a pair of inertial measurement units (IMUs) worn on the wrists. We recorded a labeled library of 10 common hand-clapping movements from 10 participants; this dataset was used to train an SVM classifier to automatically identify hand-clapping motions from previously unseen participants with a test-set classification accuracy of 97.0%. Baxter uses these sensors and this classifier to quickly identify the motions of its human gameplay partner, so that it can join in hand-clapping games. This system was evaluated by N = 24 naïve users in an experiment that involved learning sequences of eight motions from Baxter, teaching Baxter eight-motion game patterns, and completing a free interaction period. The motion classification accuracy in this less structured setting was 85.9%, primarily due to unexpected variations in motion timing. The quantitative task performance results and qualitative participant survey responses showed that learning games from Baxter was significantly easier than teaching games to Baxter, and that the teaching role caused users to consider more teamwork aspects of the gameplay. Over the course of the experiment, people felt more understood by Baxter and became more willing to follow the example of the robot. Users felt uniformly safe interacting with Baxter, and they expressed positive opinions of Baxter and reported fun interacting with the robot. Taken together, the results indicate that this robot achieved credible social-physical interaction with humans and that its ability to both lead and follow systematically changed the human partner's experience.

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DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


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Automatically Rating Trainee Skill at a Pediatric Laparoscopic Suturing Task

Oquendo, Y. A., Riddle, E. W., Hiller, D., Blinman, T. A., Kuchenbecker, K. J.

Surgical Endoscopy, 32(4):1840-1857, April 2018 (article)

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DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


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Model-based Optical Flow: Layers, Learning, and Geometry

Wulff, J.

Tuebingen University, April 2018 (phdthesis)

Abstract
The estimation of motion in video sequences establishes temporal correspondences between pixels and surfaces and allows reasoning about a scene using multiple frames. Despite being a focus of research for over three decades, computing motion, or optical flow, remains challenging due to a number of difficulties, including the treatment of motion discontinuities and occluded regions, and the integration of information from more than two frames. One reason for these issues is that most optical flow algorithms only reason about the motion of pixels on the image plane, while not taking the image formation pipeline or the 3D structure of the world into account. One approach to address this uses layered models, which represent the occlusion structure of a scene and provide an approximation to the geometry. The goal of this dissertation is to show ways to inject additional knowledge about the scene into layered methods, making them more robust, faster, and more accurate. First, this thesis demonstrates the modeling power of layers using the example of motion blur in videos, which is caused by fast motion relative to the exposure time of the camera. Layers segment the scene into regions that move coherently while preserving their occlusion relationships. The motion of each layer therefore directly determines its motion blur. At the same time, the layered model captures complex blur overlap effects at motion discontinuities. Using layers, we can thus formulate a generative model for blurred video sequences, and use this model to simultaneously deblur a video and compute accurate optical flow for highly dynamic scenes containing motion blur. Next, we consider the representation of the motion within layers. Since, in a layered model, important motion discontinuities are captured by the segmentation into layers, the flow within each layer varies smoothly and can be approximated using a low dimensional subspace. We show how this subspace can be learned from training data using principal component analysis (PCA), and that flow estimation using this subspace is computationally efficient. The combination of the layered model and the low-dimensional subspace gives the best of both worlds, sharp motion discontinuities from the layers and computational efficiency from the subspace. Lastly, we show how layered methods can be dramatically improved using simple semantics. Instead of treating all layers equally, a semantic segmentation divides the scene into its static parts and moving objects. Static parts of the scene constitute a large majority of what is shown in typical video sequences; yet, in such regions optical flow is fully constrained by the depth structure of the scene and the camera motion. After segmenting out moving objects, we consider only static regions, and explicitly reason about the structure of the scene and the camera motion, yielding much better optical flow estimates. Furthermore, computing the structure of the scene allows to better combine information from multiple frames, resulting in high accuracies even in occluded regions. For moving regions, we compute the flow using a generic optical flow method, and combine it with the flow computed for the static regions to obtain a full optical flow field. By combining layered models of the scene with reasoning about the dynamic behavior of the real, three-dimensional world, the methods presented herein push the envelope of optical flow computation in terms of robustness, speed, and accuracy, giving state-of-the-art results on benchmarks and pointing to important future research directions for the estimation of motion in natural scenes.

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Official link DOI Project Page [BibTex]


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Assessing body image in anorexia nervosa using biometric self-avatars in virtual reality: Attitudinal components rather than visual body size estimation are distorted

Mölbert, S. C., Thaler, A., Mohler, B. J., Streuber, S., Romero, J., Black, M. J., Zipfel, S., Karnath, H., Giel, K. E.

Psychological Medicine, 48(4):642-653, March 2018 (article)

Abstract
Background: Body image disturbance (BID) is a core symptom of anorexia nervosa (AN), but as yet distinctive features of BID are unknown. The present study aimed at disentangling perceptual and attitudinal components of BID in AN. Methods: We investigated n=24 women with AN and n=24 controls. Based on a 3D body scan, we created realistic virtual 3D bodies (avatars) for each participant that were varied through a range of ±20% of the participants' weights. Avatars were presented in a virtual reality mirror scenario. Using different psychophysical tasks, participants identified and adjusted their actual and their desired body weight. To test for general perceptual biases in estimating body weight, a second experiment investigated perception of weight and shape matched avatars with another identity. Results: Women with AN and controls underestimated their weight, with a trend that women with AN underestimated more. The average desired body of controls had normal weight while the average desired weight of women with AN corresponded to extreme AN (DSM-5). Correlation analyses revealed that desired body weight, but not accuracy of weight estimation, was associated with eating disorder symptoms. In the second experiment, both groups estimated accurately while the most attractive body was similar to Experiment 1. Conclusions: Our results contradict the widespread assumption that patients with AN overestimate their body weight due to visual distortions. Rather, they illustrate that BID might be driven by distorted attitudes with regard to the desired body. Clinical interventions should aim at helping patients with AN to change their desired weight.

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doi pdf DOI Project Page [BibTex]


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Body size estimation of self and others in females varying in BMI

Thaler, A., Geuss, M. N., Mölbert, S. C., Giel, K. E., Streuber, S., Romero, J., Black, M. J., Mohler, B. J.

PLoS ONE, 13(2), Febuary 2018 (article)

Abstract
Previous literature suggests that a disturbed ability to accurately identify own body size may contribute to overweight. Here, we investigated the influence of personal body size, indexed by body mass index (BMI), on body size estimation in a non-clinical population of females varying in BMI. We attempted to disentangle general biases in body size estimates and attitudinal influences by manipulating whether participants believed the body stimuli (personalized avatars with realistic weight variations) represented their own body or that of another person. Our results show that the accuracy of own body size estimation is predicted by personal BMI, such that participants with lower BMI underestimated their body size and participants with higher BMI overestimated their body size. Further, participants with higher BMI were less likely to notice the same percentage of weight gain than participants with lower BMI. Importantly, these results were only apparent when participants were judging a virtual body that was their own identity (Experiment 1), but not when they estimated the size of a body with another identity and the same underlying body shape (Experiment 2a). The different influences of BMI on accuracy of body size estimation and sensitivity to weight change for self and other identity suggests that effects of BMI on visual body size estimation are self-specific and not generalizable to other bodies.

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pdf DOI Project Page [BibTex]


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Transmission x-ray microscopy at low temperatures: Irregular supercurrent flow at small length scales

Simmendinger, J., Ruoss, S., Stahl, C., Weigand, M., Gräfe, J., Schütz, G., Albrecht, J.

{Physical Review B}, 97(13), American Physical Society, Woodbury, NY, 2018 (article)

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DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


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Immersive Low-Cost Virtual Reality Treatment for Phantom Limb Pain: Evidence from Two Cases

Ambron, E., Miller, A., Kuchenbecker, K. J., Buxbaum, L. J., Coslett, H. B.

Frontiers in Neurology, 9(67):1-7, 2018 (article)

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DOI Project Page [BibTex]

DOI Project Page [BibTex]


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Incorporation of Terbium into a Microalga Leads to Magnetotactic Swimmers

Santomauro, G., Singh, A., Park, B. W., Mohammadrahimi, M., Erkoc, P., Goering, E., Schütz, G., Sitti, M., Bill, J.

Advanced Biosystems, 2(12):1800039, 2018 (article)

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Temporal Human Action Segmentation via Dynamic Clustering

Zhang, Y., Sun, H., Tang, S., Neumann, H.

arXiv preprint arXiv:1803.05790, 2018 (article)

Abstract
We present an effective dynamic clustering algorithm for the task of temporal human action segmentation, which has comprehensive applications such as robotics, motion analysis, and patient monitoring. Our proposed algorithm is unsupervised, fast, generic to process various types of features, and applica- ble in both the online and offline settings. We perform extensive experiments of processing data streams, and show that our algorithm achieves the state-of- the-art results for both online and offline settings.

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link (url) [BibTex]

link (url) [BibTex]


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Motion Segmentation & Multiple Object Tracking by Correlation Co-Clustering

Keuper, M., Tang, S., Andres, B., Brox, T., Schiele, B.

IEEE Transactions on Pattern Analysis and Machine Intelligence, 2018 (article)

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pdf DOI Project Page [BibTex]

pdf DOI Project Page [BibTex]


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3D nanoprinted plastic kinoform x-ray optics

Sanli, U. T., Ceylan, H., Bykova, I., Weigand, M., Sitti, M., Schütz, G., Keskinbora, K.

{Advanced Materials}, 30(36), Wiley-VCH, Weinheim, 2018 (article)

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DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


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Thick permalloy films for the imaging of spin texture dynamics in perpendicularly magnetized systems

Finizio, S., Wintz, S., Bracher, D., Kirk, E., Semisalova, A. S., Förster, J., Zeissler, K., We\ssels, T., Weigand, M., Lenz, K., Kleibert, A., Raabe, J.

{Physical Review B}, 98(10), American Physical Society, Woodbury, NY, 2018 (article)

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DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


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Dynamic Janus metasurfaces in the visible spectral region

Yu, P., Li, J., Zhang, S., Jin, Z., Schütz, G., Qiu, C., Hirscher, M., Liu, N.

{Nano Letters}, 18(7):4584-4589, American Chemical Society, Washington, DC, 2018 (article)

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DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


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Review of ultrafast demagnetization after femtosecond laser pulses: A complex interaction of light with quantum matter

Fähnle, M., Haag, M., Illg, C., Müller, B. Y., Weng, W., Tsatsoulis, T., Huang, H., Briones Paz, J. Z., Teeny, N., Zhang, L., Kuhn, T.

{American Journal of Modern Physics}, 7(2):68-74, Science Publishing Group, New York, NY, 2018 (article)

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DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


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Direct observation of Zhang-Li torque expansion of magnetic droplet solitons

Chung, S., Tuan Le, Q., Ahlberg, M., Awad, A. A., Weigand, M., Bykova, I., Khymyn, R., Dvornik, M., Mazraati, H., Houshang, A., Jiang, S., Nguyen, T. N. A., Goering, E., Schütz, G., Gräfe, J., \AAkerman, J.

{Physical Review Letters}, 120(21), American Physical Society, Woodbury, N.Y., 2018 (article)

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DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


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XMCD investigations on new hard magnetic systems

Chen, Y.

Universität Stuttgart, Stuttgart, 2018 (phdthesis)

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link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


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Current-induced skyrmion generation through morphological thermal transitions in chiral ferromagnetic heterostructures

Lemesh, I., Litzius, K., Böttcher, M., Bassirian, P., Kerber, N., Heinze, D., Zázvorka, J., Büttner, F., Caretta, L., Mann, M., Weigand, M., Finizio, S., Raabe, J., Im, M., Stoll, H., Schütz, G., Dupé, B., Kläui, M., Beach, G. S. D.

{Advanced Materials}, 30(49), Wiley-VCH, Weinheim, 2018 (article)

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DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


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Assessment methodology of promising porous materials for near ambient temperature hydrogen storage applications

Minuto, F. D., Balderas-Xicohténcatl, R., Policicchio, A., Hirscher, M., Agostino, R. G.

{International Journal of Hydrogen Energy}, 43(31):14550-14556, Elsevier, Amsterdam, 2018 (article)

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DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


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3d nanofabrication of high-resolution multilayer Fresnel zone plates

Sanli, U. T., Jiao, C., Baluktsian, M., Grévent, C., Hahn, K., Wang, Y., Srot, V., Richter, G., Bykova, I., Weigand, M., Schütz, G., Keskinbora, K.

{Advanced Science}, 5(9), Wiley-VCH, Weinheim, 2018 (article)

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DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


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Photocatalytic CO2 reduction by Cr-substituted Ba2(In2-xCrx)O5\mbox⋅(H2O)δ(0.04 ≤x ≤0.60)

Yoon, S., Gaul, M., Sharma, S., Son, K., Hagemann, H., Ziegenbalg, D., Schwingenschlogl, U., Widenmeyer, M., Weidenkaff, A.

{Solid State Sciences}, 78, pages: 22-29, Elsevier Masson SAS, Paris, 2018 (article)

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DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


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Correction of axial position uncertainty and systematic detector errors in ptychographic diffraction imaging

Loetgering, L., Rose, M., Keskinbora, K., Baluktsian, M., Dogan, G., Sanli, U., Bykova, I., Weigand, M., Schütz, G., Wilhein, T.

{Optical Engineering}, 57(8), The Society, Redondo Beach, Calif., 2018 (article)

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DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


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Thermodynamics, kinetics and selectivity of H2 and D2 on zeolite 5A below 77K

Xiong, R., Balderas-Xicohténcatl, R., Zhang, L., Li, P., Yao, Y., Sang, G., Chen, C., Tang, T., Luo, D., Hirscher, M.

{Microporous and Mesoporous Materials}, 264, pages: 22-27, Elsevier, Amsterdam, 2018 (article)

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DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]