Volume 17 Issue 10, October 2018

Volume 17 Issue 10

Sailing to space

The goal of the Breakthrough Starshot Initiative is to send in a few decades an unmanned nanospacecraft to Proxima Centauri b, consisting of a lightsail propelled by laser radiation pressure.

See Editorial, Comment by Ghidini and Perspective by Atwater et al

Image: Cora Went, Artur Davoyan, and Joeson Wong, Caltech. Background courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Wisconsin. Cover Design: David Shand. [Note: The image credit originally published was incorrect; it has now been updated.]



  • Comment |

    Space missions require materials that can preserve functional integrity under extreme conditions of heat, impact and radiation. This Comment outlines the materials properties needed for some of the most ambitious space missions and presents the design and testing principles before their incorporation.

    • Tommaso Ghidini

News & Views

  • News & Views |

    Physicists are searching for superconducting materials that can host Majoranas. New evidence for these elusive particles is provided by missing Shapiro steps in a Josephson effect mediated by an accidental Dirac semimetal.

    • Fan Zhang
    •  & Wei Pan
  • News & Views |

    A graphite and hexagonal boron nitride heterojunction enables superlubric sliding, almost independent of alignment orientation, in micrometre-sized contacts under ‘real-life’ working conditions.

    • J. G. Vilhena
    •  & Rubén Pérez
  • News & Views |

    The metallic state of an iron chalcogenide superconductor is demonstrated to be characterized by the simultaneous presence of itinerant carriers with different degrees of correlation. This orbital-selective metal arises from a sizeable Hund’s coupling.

    • Massimo Capone
  • News & Views |

    Multiscale modelling provides atomic-level insights into how oxygen vacancy defect nucleation leads to the formation of the visible light photocatalyst black titania.

    • Vassiliki-Alexandra Glezakou
    •  & Roger Rousseau
  • News & Views |

    Micromilling gem-quality diamond tips into a toroidal shape has been shown to greatly extend the accessible pressure range of standard diamond anvil cells, opening the way for studies in extreme physics of high-density matter.

    • Malcolm McMahon



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