Table of contents



Looking back p1


2015 promises to be a year for celebrating important discoveries in physics — an apt way to mark the International Year of Light. And, after ten years in print, Nature Physics looks forward to its own anniversary.



Innovation slowdown p2

Mark Buchanan



Books and Arts

Film: Disbelief, suspended? pp3 - 4



News and Views

Magneto-chiral dichroism: Bring to light pp7 - 8

José Ramón Galán-Mascarós


Magnetic fields can be used to modify light absorption in chiral media, but the effect is weak, so the potential of this approach has gone largely untapped. Synchrotron radiation may provide a solution, enabling surprisingly strong dichroisms in a molecular helix.

See also: Article by Sessoli et al.

Quantum magnets: Break it up pp8 - 9

Federico Becca & Sandro Sorella


Fractional magnetic excitations naturally emerge in one-dimensional spin chains. The search for fractionalization in higher dimensions has focused on frustrated systems but evidence now suggests that it can occur in simple two-dimensional antiferromagnets.

See also: Article by Dalla Piazza et al.

Quantum optics: Spin gives direction pp9 - 10

Lorenzo Marrucci


Light emitted near an optical waveguide is captured and equally split into two modes with opposite directions of propagation. By controlling the dipole spin of the emitter, it is possible to break this symmetry and select only one direction.

Graphene spintronics: Intercalated boosters pp11 - 12

Marko Kralj


Graphene is a candidate spintronics material, but its weak intrinsic spin–orbit coupling is problematic. Intercalating graphene on an iridium substrate with islands of lead is now shown to induce a strong, spatially varying spin–orbit coupling.

See also: Letter by Calleja et al.

Graphene optoelectronics: A fool's errand pp12 - 13

Isabella Gierz


Transferring electrons from the ground state to an excited state by optical pumping usually increases the population of the upper state. But for graphene in an external magnetic field, the pumped state actually gets depleted.

See also: Article by Mittendorff et al.

Molecular physics: Subradiance spectroscopy pp14 - 15

Benjamin Pasquiou


Subradiant states have remained elusive since their prediction sixty years ago, but they have now been uncovered in ultracold molecules, where they could prove useful for ultra-high precision spectroscopy.

See also: Letter by McGuyer et al.

Ten years of Nature Physics: Slowly but surely pp15 - 16

Ebrahim Karimi & Robert W. Boyd


In 2006, Nature Physics published a paper reporting a Stern–Gerlach effect for dark polaritons and one revealing the existence of slow-light solitons. Both of these papers have significantly advanced the field of slow-light research.



Correction p16




Colossal thermomagnetic response in the exotic superconductor URu2Si2 pp17 - 20

T. Yamashita, Y. Shimoyama, Y. Haga, T. D. Matsuda, E. Yamamoto, Y. Onuki, H. Sumiyoshi, S. Fujimoto, A. Levchenko, T. Shibauchi & Y. Matsuda


The Nernst coefficient is a measure of the transverse thermoelectric effect in a conductor. Superconducting fluctuations magnify this effect but in URu2Si2, the million-fold enhancement suggests that the fluctuations have an exotic origin.

Rayleigh instability of confined vortex droplets in critical superconductors pp21 - 25

I. Lukyanchuk, V. M. Vinokur, A. Rydh, R. Xie, M. V. Milošević, U. Welp, M. Zach, Z. L. Xiao, G. W. Crabtree, S. J. Bending, F. M. Peeters & W. K. Kwok


Superconducting vortex droplets in a mesoscopic superconductor disintegrate in the same way as the charged liquid droplets studied by Lord Rayleigh, revealing dynamics similar to thunder clouds, atomic nuclei and trapped ultracold atoms.

Increasing the elastic modulus of graphene by controlled defect creation pp26 - 31

Guillermo López-Polín, Cristina Gómez-Navarro, Vincenzo Parente, Francisco Guinea, Mikhail I. Katsnelson, Francesc Pérez-Murano & Julio Gómez-Herrero


Defects are often introduced to increase the stiffness of three-dimensional materials. Evidence now suggests that the elastic modulus of two-dimensional graphene sheets can also be increased by controlled defect creation.

Precise study of asymptotic physics with subradiant ultracold molecules pp32 - 36

B. H. McGuyer, M. McDonald, G. Z. Iwata, M. G. Tarallo, W. Skomorowski, R. Moszynski & T. Zelevinsky


An experimental study characterizes subradiance—inhibited emission due to destructive interference—in ultracold molecules close to the dissociation limit and shows that it could be used for precision molecular spectroscopy.

See also: News and Views by Pasquiou

Modular entanglement of atomic qubits using photons and phonons pp37 - 42

D. Hucul, I. V. Inlek, G. Vittorini, C. Crocker, S. Debnath, S. M. Clark & C. Monroe


Many quantum protocols require fast, remote entanglement generation to outperform their classical counterparts. A modular solution is now reported, using trapped ions that are remotely entangled through photons.

Spatial variation of a giant spin–orbit effect induces electron confinement in graphene on Pb islands pp43 - 47

Fabian Calleja, Héctor Ochoa, Manuela Garnica, Sara Barja, Juan Jesús Navarro, Andrés Black, Mikhail M. Otrokov, Evgueni V. Chulkov, Andrés Arnau, Amadeo L. Vázquez de Parga, Francisco Guinea & Rodolfo Miranda


Graphene’s electronic properties can be modified by putting it on a substrate. Now it is shown that intercalating a graphene sheet and an iridium substrate with lead islands causes resonances, attributed to a spatial variation of spin–orbit coupling.

See also: News and Views by Kralj

Wettability-independent bouncing on flat surfaces mediated by thin air films pp48 - 53

Jolet de Ruiter, Rudy Lagraauw, Dirk van den Ende & Frieder Mugele


Falling droplets bounce back well from superhydrophobic surfaces. Now it is shown that when a thin air film is made to persist between drop and surface, efficient bouncing is possible for wettable surfaces too, and for drops with low surface tension.



Theory of universal incoherent metallic transport pp54 - 61

Sean A. Hartnoll


Linear resistivity across many strongly correlated materials at high temperatures has no satisfactory explanation. A universal framework of incoherent metallic transport in which quantities are bounded could be the way forward.

Fractional excitations in the square-lattice quantum antiferromagnet pp62 - 68

B. Dalla Piazza, M. Mourigal, N. B. Christensen, G. J. Nilsen, P. Tregenna-Piggott, T. G. Perring, M. Enderle, D. F. McMorrow, D. A. Ivanov & H. M. Rønnow


Fractional magnetic excitations are thought to exist even in the simplest multi-dimensional spin models, but attention has focused on frustrated systems. Such excitations have now been seen in an unfrustrated two-dimensional quantum antiferromagnet.

See also: News and Views by Becca & Sorella

Strong magneto-chiral dichroism in a paramagnetic molecular helix observed by hard X-rays pp69 - 74

Roberta Sessoli, Marie-Emmanuelle Boulon, Andrea Caneschi, Matteo Mannini, Lorenzo Poggini, Fabrice Wilhelm & Andrei Rogalev


Weak magneto-chiral dichroic effects may explain why biomolecules all have the same chirality, but they are notoriously difficult to observe. Using hard X-rays, strong magneto-chiral dichroism has now been observed in a paramagnetic molecular helix.

See also: News and Views by Galán-Mascarós

Carrier dynamics in Landau-quantized graphene featuring strong Auger scattering pp75 - 81

Martin Mittendorff, Florian Wendler, Ermin Malic, Andreas Knorr, Milan Orlita, Marek Potemski, Claire Berger, Walter A. de Heer, Harald Schneider, Manfred Helm & Stephan Winnerl


Landau levels in graphene are not equidistant so that transitions between them can be individually probed. Time-resolved optical pumping experiments reveal strong electron–electron scattering resulting in an Auger-depleted zeroth order Landau level.

See also: News and Views by Gierz

Stiffening solids with liquid inclusions pp82 - 87

Robert W. Style, Rostislav Boltyanskiy, Benjamin Allen, Katharine E. Jensen, Henry P. Foote, John S. Wettlaufer & Eric R. Dufresne


Solids embedded with fluid inclusions are intuitively softer than their pure counterparts. But experiments show that when the droplets are small enough, material can become stiffer—highlighting a role for surface tension.



Passersby p88

George Zebrowski


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