Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Volume 589 Issue 7840, 7 January 2021

Atomic insights

The rich phase behavior exhibited by amorphous silicon under high pressures has been studied extensively with a view to obtaining a deeper understanding of structurally disordered materials in general. Yet a detailed mechanistic understanding of these behaviours has remained elusive. In this week’s issue, Volker Deringer and his colleagues show how atomistic machine-learning models, used to simulate pressurized amorphous silicon, can shed light on these behaviours, capturing the full range of structural transitions encountered experimentally. Such computational approaches should open up fresh prospects for predictive materials modelling that encompasses challenging experimental conditions.

Cover image: Volker Deringer.

This Week

News in Focus




    News & Views

  • News & Views |

    Structural data revealing how an anti-tuberculosis drug works could aid efforts to improve therapeutic options for the disease. The findings also uncover aspects of how the drug’s target, the ATP synthase enzyme, operates.

    • Valerie Mizrahi
    • Clifton E. Barry III
  • News & Views |

    Transitions between amorphous forms of solids and liquids are difficult to study. Machine learning has now provided fresh insight into pressure-induced transformations of amorphous silicon, opening the way to studies of other systems.

    • Paul F. McMillan
  • News & Views |

    A high-throughput technique has been developed to screen genes implicated in neurodevelopmental diseases in 3D cell cultures. It reveals a mechanism that might be involved in a rare disorder called microcephaly.

    • Adriana Cherskov
    • Nenad Sestan
  • News & Views |

    The explosive growth of artificial intelligence calls for rapidly increasing computing power. Two reported photonic processors could meet these power requirements and revolutionize artificial-intelligence hardware.

    • Huaqiang Wu
    • Qionghai Dai
  • Reviews

  • Review Article |

    The factors affecting how and why supernovae occur are discussed, and the current status of core-collapse supernova explosion theory is reviewed.

    • A. Burrows
    • D. Vartanyan
  • Articles

  • Article |

    An optical vector convolutional accelerator operating at more than ten trillion operations per second is used to create an optical convolutional neural network that can successfully recognize handwritten digit images with 88 per cent accuracy.

    • Xingyuan Xu
    • Mengxi Tan
    • David J. Moss
  • Article |

    Machine learning models enable atomistic simulations of phase transitions in amorphous silicon, predict electronic fingerprints, and show that the pressure-induced crystallization occurs over three distinct stages.

    • Volker L. Deringer
    • Noam Bernstein
    • Stephen R. Elliott
  • Article |

    State-of-the-art electron energy-loss spectroscopy in a transmission electron microscope maps the detailed phonon spectra of single defects in silicon carbide

    • Xingxu Yan
    • Chengyan Liu
    • Xiaoqing Pan
  • Article |

    Analysis of dust from marine sediments in the North Pacific shows that warm periods during the Pliocene witnessed weaker and more poleward westerlies than during subsequent glacial periods.

    • Jordan T. Abell
    • Gisela Winckler
    • Timothy D. Herbert
  • Article |

    Analyses of molecular, anatomical, pigmentation and ecological characteristics of nearly all of the approximately 240 species of cichlid fishes in Lake Tanganyika show that the massive adaptive radiation occurred within the confines of the lake through trait-specific pulses of accelerated evolution.

    • Fabrizia Ronco
    • Michael Matschiner
    • Walter Salzburger
  • Article |

    The neuronal diversity of the Drosophila optic lobe is described throughout pupal development by single-cell sequencing, leading to the discovery of transient extrinsic neurons and a dorsoventral asymmetry of the visual circuits.

    • Mehmet Neset Özel
    • Félix Simon
    • Claude Desplan
  • Article |

    Studies using multi-structure recordings in macaque monkeys show that distinct phasic pontogeniculooccipital waves modulate hippocampal network events similar to those that underlie the learning and formation of memories during sleep.

    • Juan F. Ramirez-Villegas
    • Michel Besserve
    • Nikos K. Logothetis
  • Article |

    Experiments in mouse pluripotent embryonic and epiblast stem cells show that TRF2 is dispensable for telomere protection specifically specifically in the pluripotent cells that form during early embryonic development, when cells form T-loops independently of this protein.

    • Phil Ruis
    • David Van Ly
    • Simon J. Boulton
  • Article |

    Depletion of TRF2—an essential mediator of telomere protection in most mammalian cells—in mouse embryonic stem cells activates a compensatory transcriptional program that renders TRF2 dispensable for their survival and proliferation.

    • Marta Markiewicz-Potoczny
    • Anastasia Lobanova
    • Eros Lazzerini Denchi
  • Article |

    Genes encoding the class A auxin-response factor group of plant transcriptional activators reside in constitutively open chromatin, enabling their continual regulation by transcriptional repressors to modulate auxin signalling throughout development.

    • Jekaterina Truskina
    • Jingyi Han
    • Teva Vernoux
  • Article |

    A high-resolution map of coding regions in the SARS-CoV-2 genome enables the identification of 23 unannotated open reading frames and quantification of the expression of canonical viral open reading frames.

    • Yaara Finkel
    • Orel Mizrahi
    • Noam Stern-Ginossar
  • Article |

    The authors show that zonation extends to hepatic immune cells and that this spatial patterning is mediated by microbiome sensing by liver sinusoidal endothelial cells, and provide evidence that immune zonation is required to protect the host from the dissemination of blood-borne pathogens.

    • Anita Gola
    • Michael G. Dorrington
    • Ronald N. Germain
  • Article |

    A cryo-electron microscopy structure of the yeast pheromone receptor Ste2, a class D G-protein-coupled receptor, in its active state reveals that Ste2 is a homodimer that couples to two G proteins.

    • Vaithish Velazhahan
    • Ning Ma
    • Christopher G. Tate

Amendments & Corrections

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing


Quick links