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  • Current-inducing switching of magnetization is crucial for future magnetic data processing technologies, but switching it with speed and energy efficiency remains challenging. Using femtosecond optical pulses, instead of conventional charge currents, is found to make spintronics not only ultrafast but also counterintuitive.

    • Dmytro Afanasiev
    • Alexey V. Kimel
    News & Views
  • Controlling the vapour transport mode with sustained release of precursor species allows for the growth of single-crystalline black phosphorus and black phosphorus–arsenic thin films on the millimetre scale.

    • Matthieu Fortin-Deschênes
    • Fengnian Xia
    News & Views
  • The direct observation of enhanced dislocation mobility in iron by in situ electron microscopy offers key insights and adds to the ongoing debate on the mechanisms of hydrogen embrittlement.

    • Vasily Bulatov
    • Wei Cai
    News & Views
  • Above-bandgap, nanosecond laser pulses enable the localized in situ writing of spin defects in prefabricated nanophotonic cavities. The approach preserves defect and cavity mode properties, key requirements towards cavity–emitter coupling in quantum networks.

    • Sridhar Majety
    • Marina Radulaski
    News & Views
  • The output mechanical energy densities of ferroelectric polymers remain orders of magnitude smaller than those of piezoelectric ceramics and crystals, limiting their applications in soft actuators. But polymer composites subject to an electro-thermally driven ferroelectric phase transition under low electric fields are now shown to have giant actuation strains and large energy densities.

    Research Briefing
  • Piezoelectric actuators play a critical role in precision positioning devices; however, materials with high actuation strain and mechanical energy density are rare. Here a composite of poly(vinylidene fluoride) and TiO2 demonstrates superior performance in these metrics, with the ferroelectric transition driven by Joule heating.

    • Yang Liu
    • Yao Zhou
    • Qing Wang
  • Superionic materials are of interest for solid-state batteries or thermoelectrics, yet a clear understanding of the atomistic mechanisms is lacking. Here it is shown that transverse acoustic phonons persist above the superionic transition in argyrodite Ag8SnSe6, and that the free-Se sublattice controls fast Ag cation diffusion.

    • Qingyong Ren
    • Mayanak K. Gupta
    • Jie Ma
  • An ultra-microporous metal–organic framework glass foam shows outstanding gas sieving properties for challenging gas mixtures.

    • Chinmoy Das
    • Sebastian Henke
    News & Views
  • A strategy of using a high ligand/metal ion concentration ratio eliminates lattice defects in polycrystalline zirconium metal–organic framework membranes, enhancing their molecular sieving performance.

    • Jun Lu
    • Huanting Wang
    News & Views
  • The authors report subatomic precision in measuring the displacement of a nanowire. Such precision is achieved by employing deep-learning enabled analysis of single-shot scattering of topologically structured superoscillatory illumination.

    • Tongjun Liu
    • Cheng-Hung Chi
    • Nikolay I. Zheludev
  • Membranes formed from porous adsorbents can improve the economics of industrially difficult separations but require support materials that reduce gas permeance. Here an amorphous glassy foam membrane without a support is formed from ZIF-62 that shows high selectivity and permeance for CH4/N2 separations.

    • Zibo Yang
    • Youssef Belmabkhout
    • Chongli Zhong
  • MOF membranes can present exceptional molecular-sieving properties, but lattice defects arising from incomplete cluster coordination can hinder this. Here a strategy for the elimination of lattice defects by increasing the ligand to secondary building unit ratio is proposed and demonstrated.

    • Guozhen Liu
    • Yanan Guo
    • Nanping Xu
  • A low-valence carbon-doped ruthenium oxide-based catalytic material achieved a catalytic trinity of superior activity, selectivity and stability during the conversion of carbon dioxide into methane at low temperatures.

    • Xin Zhang
    • Abhishek Dutta Chowdhury
    News & Views