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Nature Physics - AOP - science feeds

Nature Physics offers a unique mix of news and reviews alongside top-quality research papers. Published monthly, in print and online, the journal reflects the entire spectrum of physics, pure and applied.


Optical dipole forces: Working together


Strength lies in numbers and in teamwork: tens of thousands of artificial atoms tightly packed in a nanodiamond act cooperatively, enhancing the optical trapping forces beyond the expected classical bulk polarizability contribution.

Hydrodynamics: Modus vivendi


Striking visualization of the flows generated by starfish larvae in their fluid environment offers unique insight into how these organisms live. The beautiful vortices they create betray a dynamic mechanism for trading swimming off against feeding.

Origin of life: Division for multiplication


Early forms of life could have started by molecular compounds coming together under conditions dense enough to promote reactions. But how might these droplets have undergone what we now know as cell division? The answer may be simpler than we think.

Colloids: A microscopic army


Ensembles of magnetic colloids can undergo an instability triggering the formation of clusters that move faster than the particles themselves. The many-body process relies on hydrodynamics alone and may prove useful for load delivery in fluidics.

Photoemission delay: The White Rabbit's clock


Without a very precise timer one can never catch up with the electron released in photoemission. Attosecond streaking spectroscopy allows such a chronometer clock to be set to zero and reveals the role of electron correlations.

Star formation: Cosmic feast


Low-mass stars form through a process known as disk accretion, eating up material that orbits in a disk around them. It turns out that the same mechanism also describes the formation of more massive stars.

Spin-Orbit torques: Going in the right direction


A connection between low crystalline symmetry and the allowed symmetries of the current-induced torques generated through the spin–orbit interaction opens up their use in devices with perpendicular magnetic anisotropy.

Quantum optics: Photons taught new tricks


Experiments of the Aharonov–Bohm type typically involve particles that are charged and interact with a magnetic flux. Photons aren't the former and don't do the latter. Yet, an Aharonov–Bohm ring for photons has just been realized experimentally.

Organic semiconductors: Dynamic duos


The discovery of intermediate high-spin multiexciton states with surprisingly long lifetimes provides new opportunities for engineering singlet fission, which may also provide an intriguing route to quantum information and spintronic applications.

Cold molecular collisions: Same object, different symmetry


Cold collisions between hydrogen molecules and helium atoms reveal how the change from spherical to non-spherical symmetry creates a quantum scattering resonance.

Superconductivity: Picky about orientation


Not in all superconductors do Cooper pairs respect the lattice symmetry of the crystal in which they move. Now, work finds such 'picky' Cooper pairs in the presence of strong electron–spin interaction — and gives rise to an entire host of new questions.

Quantum measurement: Coping with pressure


Radiation pressure noise from squeezed light constrains the precision of sensing devices such as improved gravitational wave interferometers.

Magnetic adatoms: When Ising meets Majorana


The topological degeneracy associated with Majorana edge states has been measured in a spin-1/2 chain of cobalt atoms, thereby opening new avenues in low-dimensional quantum magnetism.

High-energy neutrino astrophysics


Neutrinos from deep space can be used as astronomical messengers providing clues about the origin of cosmic rays or dark matter. The IceCube experiment is leading the way in neutrino astronomy.

Plasma holograms for ultrahigh-intensity optics


Plasma optics enables the manipulation of highly intense laser beams. Now, plasma holograms, involving the creation of a modulated plasma surface on a solid target, are reported—for example, plasma hologram fork gratings produce optical vortices.

Intrinsic photonic wave localization in a three-dimensional icosahedral quasicrystal


Unlike the usual picture of Anderson localization, in three-dimensional quasicrystals light waves can localize without disorder, thanks to their short mean free path.

Observation of topological valley transport of sound in sonic crystals


Valleytronics — exploiting a system’s pseudospin degree of freedom — is being increasingly explored in sonic crystals. Now, valley transport of sound is reported for a macroscopic triangular-lattice array of rod-like scatterers in a 2D air waveguide.

Vortex arrays and ciliary tangles underlie the feeding–swimming trade-off in starfish larvae


Larval starfish use an outer layer of cilia to generate vortices in the fluid around their bodies. Spectacular imaging and mathematical modelling are combined to reveal that these dynamics are alternately optimized for swimming and feeding.

Optical-field-controlled photoemission from plasmonic nanoparticles


Photoemission is usually driven by the energy of the illuminating laser pulses, but in the strong-field regime, the photoemission from an array of plasmonic nanoparticles is shown to be controlled by the light’s electric field.

Sharp tunnelling resonance from the vibrations of an electronic Wigner crystal


Resonances in the tunnelling spectra of a two-dimensional electron system provide strong evidence that the electrons arrange themselves into a Wigner crystal lattice with long-range ordering.

Unstable fronts and motile structures formed by microrollers


Collections of rolling colloids are shown to pinch off into motile clusters resembling droplets sliding down a windshield. These stable dynamic structures are formed through a fingering instability that relies on hydrodynamic interactions alone.

Continuous excitations of the triangular-lattice quantum spin liquid YbMgGaO4


A detailed and systematic neutron-scattering study uncovers a continuum of magnetic excitations down to 0.06 K in the triangular quantum magnet YbMgGaO4 — an observation consistent with quantum spin liquid behaviour.

Giant anisotropic nonlinear optical response in transition metal monopnictide Weyl semimetals


An optical second-harmonic generation study of a series of transition metal monopnictide Weyl semimetals reveals a giant, anisotropic nonlinear optical response in these systems.

Topological mosaics in moiré superlattices of van der Waals heterobilayers


Engineering moiré superlattices by stacking two-dimensional crystals could enable lateral superstructures to be formed where the local topological phase is periodically modulated, creating topological mosaics that are electrically switchable.

Accelerated quantum control using superadiabatic dynamics in a solid-state lambda system


Adiabatic processes are useful in quantum control, but they are slow. A way around this is to exploit shortcuts to adiabaticity, which can speed things up — for instance, by boosting stimulated Raman adiabatic passage.

Propagating compaction bands in confined compression of snow


When deforming snow slowly, it resists. But when applying a deformation rapidly, it gives in more easily. Experiments now reveal propagating deformation bands and the localization of strain in compressed snow — both natural and artificial.

Anisotropic high-harmonic generation in bulk crystals


High-harmonic generation in a solid turns out to be sensitive to the interatomic bonding — a very useful feature that could enable the all-optical imaging of the interatomic potential.

A global inversion-symmetry-broken phase inside the pseudogap region of YBa2Cu3Oy


A spectroscopic study of the canonical cuprate materials YBCO reveals the point group symmetry of this system inside its pseudogap phase.

Disk-mediated accretion burst in a high-mass young stellar object


Observations show that, like light solar-mass stars, heavy stars also form through episodic disk-accretion; but faster, more energetic and emitting more light.

Cooperatively enhanced dipole forces from artificial atoms in trapped nanodiamonds


The strength of optical trapping of a nanodiamond can be increased by cooperative effects between its numerous colour centres — or artificial atoms: an observation that brings together ideas from atom and nanoparticle trapping.

High-harmonic generation from an atomically thin semiconductor


Observations of high-harmonic generation from a single layer of a transition metal dichalcogenide opens the door to studying strong-field and attosecond phenomena in two-dimensional materials.

Real-time confinement following a quantum quench to a non-integrable model


Confinement plays an important role in many-body physics from high energy to condensed matter. New results show that it strongly affects the non-equilibrium dynamics after a quantum quench with possible implications from ultracold atoms to QCD.

Schistosoma mansoni cercariae swim efficiently by exploiting an elastohydrodynamic coupling


The success with which the parasite Schistosoma mansoni infects humans is due largely to its efficient motility. Experiments, modelling and robotics suggest that it swims via an elastohydrodynamic mechanism, rather than using active muscle control.

Fermi polaron-polaritons in charge-tunable atomically thin semiconductors


Cavity spectroscopy measurements elucidate the Fermi polaron nature of the optical excitations in monolayer transition metal dichalcogenides.

Interlayer electron–phonon coupling in WSe2/hBN heterostructures


The emergence of optically silent phonons show that strong interlayer electron–phonon coupling can arise in van der Waals heterostructures, with the vibrational modes in one layer coupling to the electronic states in a neighbouring layer.

An effective magnetic field from optically driven phonons


Light can be used to directly excite phonon modes in condensed matter. Simultaneously exciting several modes in an antiferromagnetic rare-earth orthoferrite drives behaviour that mimics the application of a magnetic field.

Critical slowing down in purely elastic ‘snap-through’ instabilities


Critical phenomena are well understood in a wide range of physical systems. The dynamics of snap-through instabilities, a widespread phenomenon in their own right, are now shown to display critical scaling properties.

Nonergodic diffusion of single atoms in a periodic potential


Drawing microscopic information out of the diffusive dynamics of complex processes often requires an assumption of ergodicity. Precision experiments on a single atom in a periodic potential suggest that this may be too simplistic in many cases.

Thermodynamic evidence for nematic superconductivity in CuxBi2Se3


In a nematic liquid crystal, electron orbitals align themselves along one axis, as rods. Thermodynamic observations of such rod-like alignments in CuxBi2Se3 provide evidence for a nematic superconductor.

Generalized non-reciprocity in an optomechanical circuit via synthetic magnetism and reservoir engineering


Combining synthetic magnetism and controlled dissipation, researchers created an optomechanical device in which photons and phonons are coupled, enabling non-reciprocal (asymmetric) photon transport and directional amplification.

Skyrmion Hall effect revealed by direct time-resolved X-ray microscopy


Experiments show that when driven by electric currents, magnetic skyrmions experience transverse motion due to their topological charge — similar to the conventional Hall effect experienced by charged particles in a perpendicular magnetic field.

Growth and division of active droplets provides a model for protocells


Droplets are an appealing picture for protocells in origin-of-life studies, but it’s unclear how they would have propagated by growth and division. Theory suggests that chemically active droplets spontaneously split into equal daughter droplets.

Control of the millisecond spin lifetime of an electrically probed atom


Single atoms on a surface can be useful in spintronics applications, but their spin lifetime is limited by relaxation. By cleverly employing an STM tip, one can probe the spin dynamics and disentangle different effects leading to relaxation.

Long-range mutual synchronization of spin Hall nano-oscillators


The synchronization of nine nanoconstriction spin Hall nano-oscillators brings spin-based oscillators closer to the power and noise requirements needed for practical applications.

High-resolution studies of the Majorana atomic chain platform


High-resolution scanning tunnelling microscopy measurements show that chains of magnetic atoms on the surface of a superconductor provide a promising platform for realizing and manipulating Majorana fermion quasiparticles.

Control of spin–orbit torques through crystal symmetry in WTe2/ferromagnet bilayers


A link between crystalline symmetry and the allowed symmetries of spin–orbit torques provides a route for manipulating magnetic devices with perpendicular anisotropy.

Attosecond correlation dynamics


Photoemission is not a simple process and it is not instantaneous. Delays of a few attoseconds have now been measured in helium and it seems that they are partly due to electronic correlations.

Light-controlled flows in active fluids


The ability of phototactic microorganisms to move towards optimal light intensities is exploited to generate fluid flows on scales several orders larger than the swimmers themselves. These flows are shown to function as hydrodynamic tweezers.

Chiral ground-state currents of interacting photons in a synthetic magnetic field


Superconducting circuits, coupled to form a ring in which a photonic excitation can circulate between sites, are established as a versatile platform for studying the interplay of strong particle interactions and external fields.

Spiral spin-liquid and the emergence of a vortex-like state in MnSc2S4


A detailed and systematic neutron scattering study uncovers a spiral spin-liquid state in the quantum magnet MnSc2S4.

A proton density bubble in the doubly magic 34Si nucleus


The central densities of protons and neutrons in stable atomic nuclei are saturated. More exotic nuclei—with imbalanced proton and neutron numbers—may have depleted central densities. Experiments now suggest such depletion for the 34Si nucleus.

Quintet multiexciton dynamics in singlet fission


Experiments show how molecular structure affects the interaction and dynamics of the triplet exciton pairs produced when an excited singlet exciton decays via singlet fission—a process that could be harnessed for optoelectronic applications.

Strongly exchange-coupled triplet pairs in an organic semiconductor


Experiments show how molecular structure affects the interaction and dynamics of the triplet exciton pairs produced when an excited singlet exciton decays via singlet fission—a process that could be harnessed for optoelectronic applications.

Electric-field-induced spin disorder-to-order transition near a multiferroic triple phase point


The triple point is a well-known feature on pressure–temperature phase diagrams. A multiferroic triple point is now reported for La-doped BiFeO3; La concentration and temperature are the phase variables and the phases display different spin (dis)order.

Direct observation of the skyrmion Hall effect


Experiments show that when driven by electric currents, magnetic skyrmions experience transverse motion due to their topological charge—similar to the conventional Hall effect experienced by charged particles in a perpendicular magnetic field.