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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.
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Time to fix science prizes

Mon, 28/08/2017 - 00:00

Nature Physics 13, 822 (2017). doi:10.1038/nphys4246

Authors: Shivaji Sondhi & Steven Kivelson

Science prizes should better reflect how modern science is carried out, argue Shivaji Sondhi and Steven Kivelson.

Soft materials: A remedy for thinning hair

Mon, 21/08/2017 - 00:00

Nature Physics 13, 927 (2017). doi:10.1038/nphys4247

Author: Mitul Luhar

Vast beds of 'hair' coat many living systems, and usually exhibit shear-thinning behaviour — their flow resistance lessens with speed. But with geometric tweaks, such beds can also show shear-thickening and asymmetric ratchet-like behaviour.

Nonlinear flow response of soft hair beds

Mon, 21/08/2017 - 00:00

Nature Physics 13, 1014 (2017). doi:10.1038/nphys4225

Authors: José Alvarado, Jean Comtet, Emmanuel de Langre & A. E. Hosoi

Heavy ion collisions: A clash of photons

Mon, 14/08/2017 - 00:00

Nature Physics 13, 827 (2017). doi:10.1038/nphys4239

Author: Spencer R. Klein

The ATLAS Collaboration observed photons elastically scattering from other photons — an effect predicted by quantum electrodynamics over 80 years ago.

The thing about data

Wed, 02/08/2017 - 00:00

Nature Physics 13, 717 (2017). doi:10.1038/nphys4238

The rise of big data represents an opportunity for physicists. To take full advantage, however, they need a subtle but important shift in mindset.

Simple yet successful

Wed, 02/08/2017 - 00:00

Nature Physics 13, 720 (2017). doi:10.1038/nphys4228

Author: Mark Buchanan

Music: Last night a DJ went to space

Wed, 02/08/2017 - 00:00

Nature Physics 13, 721 (2017). doi:10.1038/nphys4226

Author: Federico Levi

Quantum thermodynamics: In the demon's mind

Wed, 02/08/2017 - 00:00

Nature Physics 13, 722 (2017). doi:10.1038/nphys4232

Author: Andreas Trabesinger

Quantum communication: Satellite to ground control

Wed, 02/08/2017 - 00:00

Nature Physics 13, 722 (2017). doi:10.1038/nphys4233

Author: Iulia Georgescu

Plasma physics: Turbulent tabletops

Wed, 02/08/2017 - 00:00

Nature Physics 13, 722 (2017). doi:10.1038/nphys4234

Author: Federico Levi

Ultracold gases: A test of scaling

Wed, 02/08/2017 - 00:00

Nature Physics 13, 722 (2017). doi:10.1038/nphys4235

Author: Yun Li

Majorana modes: The new black

Wed, 02/08/2017 - 00:00

Nature Physics 13, 722 (2017). doi:10.1038/nphys4236

Author: Luke Fleet

The invention of dimension

Wed, 02/08/2017 - 00:00

Nature Physics 13, 820 (2017). doi:10.1038/nphys4229

Author: Steven T. Bramwell

Assigning dimensions to physical quantities is not just for practicality. Steven T. Bramwell reflects on the deeper physical connotations of it all.

Coexistence of ultra-long spin relaxation time and coherent charge transport in organic single-crystal semiconductors

Mon, 31/07/2017 - 00:00

Nature Physics 13, 994 (2017). doi:10.1038/nphys4217

Authors: Junto Tsurumi, Hiroyuki Matsui, Takayoshi Kubo, Roger Häusermann, Chikahiko Mitsui, Toshihiro Okamoto, Shun Watanabe & Jun Takeya

Structural and quantum-state phase transition in van der Waals layered materials

Mon, 17/07/2017 - 00:00

Nature Physics 13, 931 (2017). doi:10.1038/nphys4188

Authors: Heejun Yang, Sung Wng Kim, Manish Chhowalla & Young Hee Lee

Stripes developed at the strong limit of nematicity in FeSe film

Mon, 17/07/2017 - 00:00

Nature Physics 13, 957 (2017). doi:10.1038/nphys4186

Authors: Wei Li, Yan Zhang, Peng Deng, Zhilin Xu, S.-K. Mo, Ming Yi, Hao Ding, M. Hashimoto, R. G. Moore, D.-H. Lu, Xi Chen, Z.-X. Shen & Qi-Kun Xue

A single monolayer of iron selenide grown on strontium titanate shows an impressive enhancement of superconductivity compared with the bulk, as well as a novel Fermi surface topology, extreme two-dimensionality, and the possibility of phonon-enhanced electron pairing. For films thicker than one unit cell, however, the electronic structure is markedly different, with a drastically suppressed superconductivity and strong nematicity appearing. The physics driving this extraordinary dichotomy of superconducting behaviour is far from clear. Here, we use low-temperature scanning tunnelling microscopy to study multilayers of iron selenide grown by molecular beam epitaxy, and find a stripe-type charge ordering instability that develops beneath the nematic state. The charge ordering is visible and pinned in the vicinity of impurities. And as it emerges in the strong limit of nematicity, it suggests that a magnetic fluctuation with a rather small wavevector may be competing with the ordinary collinear antiferromagnetic ordering in multilayer films. The existence of stripes in iron-based superconductors, which resemble the stripe order in cuprates, not only suggests that electronic anisotropy and correlation are playing an important role, but also provides a platform for probing the complex interactions between nematicity, charge ordering, magnetism and superconductivity in high-temperature superconductors.

4-spin plaquette singlet state in the Shastry–Sutherland compound SrCu2(BO3)2

Mon, 17/07/2017 - 00:00

Nature Physics 13, 962 (2017). doi:10.1038/nphys4190

Authors: M. E. Zayed, Ch. Rüegg, J. Larrea J., A. M. Läuchli, C. Panagopoulos, S. S. Saxena, M. Ellerby, D. F. McMorrow, Th. Strässle, S. Klotz, G. Hamel, R. A. Sadykov, V. Pomjakushin, M. Boehm, M. Jiménez–Ruiz, A. Schneidewind, E. Pomjakushina, M. Stingaciu, K. Conder & H. M. Rønnow

The study of interacting spin systems is of fundamental importance for modern condensed-matter physics. On frustrated lattices, magnetic exchange interactions cannot be simultaneously satisfied, and often give rise to competing exotic ground states. The frustrated two-dimensional Shastry–Sutherland lattice realized by SrCu2(BO3)2 (refs ,) is an important test case for our understanding of quantum magnetism. It was constructed to have an exactly solvable 2-spin dimer singlet ground state within a certain range of exchange parameters and frustration. While the exact dimer state and the antiferromagnetic order at both ends of the phase diagram are well known, the ground state and spin correlations in the intermediate frustration range have been widely debated. We report here the first experimental identification of the conjectured plaquette singlet intermediate phase in SrCu2(BO3)2. It is observed by inelastic neutron scattering after pressure tuning to 21.5 kbar. This gapped singlet state leads to a transition to long-range antiferromagnetic order above 40 kbar, consistent with the existence of a deconfined quantum critical point.

Tracing the phase of focused broadband laser pulses

Mon, 10/07/2017 - 00:00

Nature Physics 13, 947 (2017). doi:10.1038/nphys4185

Authors: Dominik Hoff, Michael Krüger, Lothar Maisenbacher, A. M. Sayler, Gerhard G. Paulus & Peter Hommelhoff

Precise knowledge of the behaviour of the phase of light in a focused beam is fundamental to understanding and controlling laser-driven processes. More than a hundred years ago, an axial phase anomaly for focused monochromatic light beams was discovered and is now commonly known as the Gouy phase. Recent theoretical work has brought into question the validity of applying this monochromatic phase formulation to the broadband pulses becoming ubiquitous today. Based on electron backscattering at sharp nanometre-scale metal tips, a method is available to measure light fields with sub-wavelength spatial resolution and sub-optical-cycle time resolution. Here we report such a direct, three-dimensional measurement of the spatial dependence of the optical phase of a focused, 4-fs, near-infrared pulsed laser beam. The observed optical phase deviates substantially from the monochromatic Gouy phase—exhibiting a much more complex spatial dependence, both along the propagation axis and in the radial direction. In our measurements, these significant deviations are the rule and not the exception for focused, broadband laser pulses. Therefore, we expect wide ramifications for all broadband laser–matter interactions, such as in high-harmonic and attosecond pulse generation, femtochemistry, ophthalmological optical coherence tomography and light-wave electronics.

Charge density wave quantum critical point with strong enhancement of superconductivity

Mon, 10/07/2017 - 00:00

Nature Physics 13, 967 (2017). doi:10.1038/nphys4191

Authors: Thomas Gruner, Dongjin Jang, Zita Huesges, Raul Cardoso-Gil, Gerhard H. Fecher, Michael M. Koza, Oliver Stockert, Andrew P. Mackenzie, Manuel Brando & Christoph Geibel

Quantum critical points (QCPs), at which a second-order phase transition is continuously suppressed to zero temperature, are currently one of the central topics in solid-state physics. The strong interest emerges from observations of very unusual properties at QCPs such as the onset of unconventional superconductivity (SC). While QCPs found at the disappearance of magnetic order are quite common and intensively studied, a QCP that results from a structural transition is scarce and poorly investigated. Here, we report on the observation of a charge density wave (CDW) type of structural ordering in LuPt 2In with a second-order transition at TCDW = 490 K. Substituting Pd for Pt suppresses TCDW continuously towards T = 0, leading to a QCP at 58% Pd substitution. We find a strong enhancement of bulk SC just at the QCP, pointing to a new type of interaction between CDW and SC.

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