Browse Articles

  • Research Highlight |

    A Nature Nanotechnology paper presents evidence of new fractional excitations in monolayer WSe2

    • Ankita Anirban
  • Research Highlight |

    The Solar system is chaotic, making its long-term future hard to predict. A paper in Physical Review Letters shows that help may come in the form of instantons, more commonly used in statistical mechanics and gauge field theories.

    • Zoe Budrikis
  • Review Article |

    Despite comprising only about 15% of the known molecular inventory of the interstellar medium, molecular ions have an outsized role in driving chemical evolution. This Review examines the advances — and challenges — in laboratory spectroscopy that have enabled the study of ions in space.

    • Brett A. McGuire
    • , Oskar Asvany
    • , Sandra Brünken
    •  & Stephan Schlemmer
  • Editorial |

    This month in a dedicated Focus issue, we look back at the first decade of X-ray free-electron lasers (XFELs) and forward to the challenges and opportunities lying ahead.

  • Research Highlight |

    Over the past decade, several X-ray free-electron laser (XFEL) facilities have been constructed and started operation worldwide. New, high-repetition XFELs are expected to open to users in the next 5 years.

    • Iulia Georgescu
  • Research Highlight |

    Twenty-five years ago a paper in Science reported the first observation of the exotic state of matter predicted in the 1920s by Satyendra Nath Bose and Albert Einstein: a Bose–Einstein condensate.

    • Iulia Georgescu
  • Comment |

    Why the Hall conductance is quantized was an open problem in condensed matter theory for much of the past 40 years. Spyridon Michalakis who worked on the solution — published in 2015 — gives a personal take on how the field evolved.

    • Spyridon Michalakis
  • Technical Review |

    Quantum simulation with ultracold atomic gases is an established platform for investigating complex quantum processes. Focusing on optical lattice experiments, this Technical Review overviews the available tools and their applications to the simulation of solid-state physics problems.

    • Florian Schäfer
    • , Takeshi Fukuhara
    • , Seiji Sugawa
    • , Yosuke Takasu
    •  & Yoshiro Takahashi
  • Review Article |

    The study of higher-dimensional quantum states has seen numerous conceptual and technological developments. This review discusses various techniques for the generation and processing of qudits, which are stored in the momentum, path, time-/frequency-bins, or the orbital angular momentum of photons.

    • Manuel Erhard
    • , Mario Krenn
    •  & Anton Zeilinger
  • Research Highlight |

    Analysis of citation behaviours in neuroscience indicate that papers led by men are cited more than would be expected based on other characteristics; the discrepancy is most prominent in the citation behaviours of men and is getting worse over time.

    • Zoe Budrikis
  • Comment |

    Miguel Mostafa describes the Astrophysical Multimessenger Observatory Network (AMON), an online network that enables real-time coincidence searches using data from the leading multimessenger observatories and astronomical facilities.

    • Miguel Mostafá
  • Review Article |

    Chemical vapour deposition (CVD) enables the synthesis of high-purity, pinhole-free and conformal polymer thin films. This Review discusses the recent breakthroughs in mechanistically based CVD polymerization processes and designing CVD polymers for a diverse array of applications.

    • Karen K. Gleason
  • Technical Review |

    Quantum technologies require an extremely precise functioning of their components which is ensured by sophisticated tools for device characterization. This Technical Review surveys and assesses the currently available tools according to their overall complexity, information gain, and underlying assumptions.

    • Jens Eisert
    • , Dominik Hangleiter
    • , Nathan Walk
    • , Ingo Roth
    • , Damian Markham
    • , Rhea Parekh
    • , Ulysse Chabaud
    •  & Elham Kashefi
  • Research Highlight |

    An article in PNAS demonstrates optical control of neuronal activity using graphene flakes grown on silicon nanowires.

    • Ankita Anirban
  • Comment |

    The development of a new generation of detectors has been key to the success of X-ray free-electron lasers (XFELs). Anna Bergamaschi, Aldo Mozzanica and Bernd Schmitt discuss the advances in detector technology made over the past 10 years and examine the challenges presented by emerging high-repetition-rate XFEL facilities.

    • Anna Bergamaschi
    • , Aldo Mozzanica
    •  & Bernd Schmitt
  • Comment |

    The European XFEL is the first hard X-ray high-repetition-rate free-electron laser facility. Sakura Pascarelli, Serguei Molodtsov and Thomas Tschentscher, scientific directors of the European XFEL, discuss the challenges that lie ahead before the European XFEL can reach its full potential and cater for an international and diverse community of users.

    • Sakura Pascarelli
    • , Serguei Molodtsov
    •  & Thomas Tschentscher
  • Comment |

    The first decade of X-ray free-electron lasers (XFELs) has led to technological advances and scientific discoveries, but has also highlighted several facility-level challenges. Chi-Chang Kao, Director of SLAC, discusses the lessons to be learned from the first 10 years of operation and shares his thoughts on how facilities can overcome challenges facing XFEL development.

    • Chi-Chang Kao
  • Comment |

    X-ray free-electron lasers (XFELs) have rapidly developed into unique tools for probing diverse systems of interest to different scientific disciplines with angstrom–femtosecond resolution. Claudio Pellegrini provides an overview of the milestones in the development of XFELs and their unique capabilities.

    • Claudio Pellegrini
  • Editorial |

    Epidemiological modelling informs government responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, but confusion abounds about the models. What can physicists do to help?

  • Research Highlight |

    Two papers in Nature report strong coupling between photons and free, unbound electrons. This opens up the possibility for higher resolution, ultrafast imaging using lower energy and less-destructive electron beams.

    • Ankita Anirban
  • Technical Review |

    Methods for measuring stress in living cells, tissues and organs are advancing steadily and are increasingly being used for biomedical applications. In this Review, we discuss the concept of tissue stress and the techniques available to measure it in 2D and 3D cell and tissue cultures and in vivo.

    • Manuel Gómez-González
    • , Ernest Latorre
    • , Marino Arroyo
    •  & Xavier Trepat
  • Technical Review |

    Ion traps enable the precise control and manipulation of the quantum state of a trapped ion. This Technical Review discusses the way in which ion-trap microchips can be fabricated and integrated with advanced on-chip features for implementing practical quantum technologies.

    • Zak David Romaszko
    • , Seokjun Hong
    • , Martin Siegele
    • , Reuben Kahan Puddy
    • , Foni Raphaël Lebrun-Gallagher
    • , Sebastian Weidt
    •  & Winfried Karl Hensinger
  • Comment |

    The rise of machine learning is moving research away from tightly controlled, theory-guided experiments towards an approach based on data-driven searches. Abbas Ourmazd describes how this change might profoundly affect our understanding and practice of physics.

    • Abbas Ourmazd
  • Research Highlight |

    Twenty-five years ago, a paper by Ignacio Cirac and Peter Zoller turned quantum computing from a bold theoretical idea to an experimental race to build an actual device. Today, engineering challenges remain, but first-generation practical quantum computers seem tangible.

    • Iulia Georgescu
  • Viewpoint |

    In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, science is crucial to inform public policy. At the same time, mistrust of scientists and misinformation about scientific facts are rampant. Six scientists, actively involved in outreach, reflect on how to build a better understanding and trust of science.

    • Katherine Mack
    • , Karl Kruszelnicki
    • , Lisa Randall
    • , Jessica Wade
    • , Jim Al-Khalili
    •  & Vlatko Vedral
  • Research Highlight |

    During the COVID-19 lockdown, the flourishing of online seminars is opening up the new frontiers of physics to an unprecedented number of scientists.

    • Giulia Pacchioni
  • Perspective |

    Non-line-of-sight (NLOS) imaging methods use light scattered from multiple surfaces to reconstruct images of scenes that are hidden by another object. This Perspective summarizes existing NLOS imaging techniques and discusses which directions show most promise for future developments.

    • Daniele Faccio
    • , Andreas Velten
    •  & Gordon Wetzstein
  • Editorial |

    On the 60th anniversary of the first operation of a laser, let us reflect on the many advances lasers have enabled in various areas of physics.

  • Viewpoint |

    As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, mathematical epidemiologists share their views on what models reveal about how the disease has spread, the current state of play and what work still needs to be done.

    • Alessandro Vespignani
    • , Huaiyu Tian
    • , Christopher Dye
    • , James O. Lloyd-Smith
    • , Rosalind M. Eggo
    • , Munik Shrestha
    • , Samuel V. Scarpino
    • , Bernardo Gutierrez
    • , Moritz U. G. Kraemer
    • , Joseph Wu
    • , Kathy Leung
    •  & Gabriel M. Leung
  • Comment |

    X-ray free-electron lasers (XFELs) are unique tools that are making possible time-resolved measurements of structural and electronic dynamics at the quantum spatial and temporal scales. Jonathan Marangos discusses the transformative scientific potential of this capability but also stresses the importance of lowering barriers to access to maximize scientific reach.

    • Jonathan P. Marangos
  • Expert Recommendation |

    This Expert Recommendation provides a guide to identifying practical situations where the likelihood ratio test statistic cannot be approximated by a χ2 distribution and proposes adequate solutions.

    • Sara Algeri
    • , Jelle Aalbers
    • , Knut Dundas Morå
    •  & Jan Conrad
  • Technical Review |

    Plasmon-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (PERS) is a highly sensitive technique that can provide molecular fingerprint information. This Technical Review discusses the fundamental principles, advantages and limitations of PERS, key issues in using PERS and interpreting results, and state-of-the-art applications in materials characterization, bioanalysis and the study of surfaces.

    • Xiang Wang
    • , Sheng-Chao Huang
    • , Shu Hu
    • , Sen Yan
    •  & Bin Ren
  • Feature |

    As the third LIGO–Virgo operating run (O3) finishes earlier than planned owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, we look at the ups and down of the past 12 months.

    • Iulia Georgescu
  • Research Highlight |

    Clouds of bubbles in low-gravity environments behave differently from those on Earth, owing to their reduced buoyancy. A paper in Soft Matter reports a study of the behaviour of bubble clouds in a vessel in freefall.

    • Zoe Budrikis
  • Comment |

    The rapid progress of atomic and nuclear physics in the twentieth century changed the way scientific results are documented, preserved and disseminated. Boris Pritychenko explains how atomic and nuclear data tables have become a central resource for the community.

    • Boris Pritychenko
  • Research Highlight |

    A Nature Astronomy paper finds that distributing peer review amongst grant applicants, aided by a machine-learning algorithm, can lead to more democratic decisions and provide more detailed feedback.

    • Ankita Anirban
  • World View |

    Many physicists want to use their mathematical modelling skills to study the COVID-19 pandemic. Julia Gog, a mathematical epidemiologist, explains some ways to contribute.

    • Julia R. Gog
  • Research Highlight |

    A paper in Communications Physics catalogues the swarming behaviour of Bacillus subtilis as a function of the colony density and the cell aspect ratio, contributing to the picture of how physical properties of cells affect their motion in groups.

    • Zoe Budrikis
  • Editorial |

    In this issue we explore some of the reasons why physicists from Asia are under-represented in Nature Reviews Physics as authors and referees and ponder what we can do.

  • Viewpoint |

    Nine researchers, editors and science communicators share their views about the barriers that Asian scientists encounter in publishing their work and becoming more visible on the international level.

    • Shravan Hanasoge
    • , Noriaki Horiuchi
    • , Congcong Huang
    • , Hepeng Jia
    • , Na Young Kim
    • , Mio Murao
    • , Minah Seo
    • , Rebecca Tan
    •  & Jens Wilkinson
  • Perspective |

    Due to their atomic structure, ultracold alkaline-earth atoms are well suited for quantum simulation and the study of quantum many-body physics. This Perspective overviews the ways to control the interactions between atoms and discusses the new physics that could be uncovered.

    • Ren Zhang
    • , Yanting Cheng
    • , Peng Zhang
    •  & Hui Zhai
  • Research Highlight |

    An Advanced Materials paper presents a new type of device that generates polarized single photons without the need for high magnetic fields or cryogenic temperatures.

    • Ankita Anirban
  • Research Highlight |

    Experiments published in Physical Review Letters on the separation dependence of gravitational attraction find results consistent with Newton’s law of gravitation for separations between 52 μm and 3 mm.

    • Zoe Budrikis
  • Research Highlight |

    As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to grow around the world, physicists — many of whom rely on international travel and collaborations — are adapting.

    • Zoe Budrikis
  • Research Highlight |

    A Nature paper reports the growth of wafer-scale single-crystalline hexagonal boron nitride on Cu(111).

    • Claire Ashworth