News & Comment

  • News & Views |

    Facilities generating coherent X-rays tend to be large scale and costly. Now researchers have demonstrated a parametric and coherent laboratory-scale X-ray source by passing moderately energetic electrons through van der Waals heterostructures.

    • Ingo Uschmann
  • News & Views |

    Photoluminescence spectroscopy using atomic-scale light reveals an optical transition of a single molecule at sub-nanometre resolution.

    • Takashi Kumagai
  • News & Views |

    The limited control of electrons by light has resulted in photonic-driven circuits lagging far behind their electronic counterparts. Now, a technique exploiting coherent control with structured light has been used to sculpt the spatial distribution of electric currents, ushering in vectorized optoelectronic control in semiconductors.

    • Andrew Forbes
  • News & Views |

    Two independent studies report new organic compounds that offer record rates of reverse intersystem crossing between triplet and singlet excited states. The result is sky-blue organic light-emitting diodes with improved efficiency, stability and reduced efficiency roll-off.

    • Eli Zysman-Colman
  • News & Views |

    The integration of diamond waveguide arrays into an aluminium nitride photonic platform offers hope for the realization of scalable chips for quantum information processing.

    • Mehran Kianinia
    •  & Igor Aharonovich
  • News & Views |

    Gold atoms are stripped of 72 of their electrons to form nitrogen-like Au72+ ions inside extremely hot plasmas by irradiating gold foils and nanowires with highly relativistic femtosecond laser pulses.

    • Lap Van Dao
    •  & Peter Hannaford
  • News & Views |

    Using topological singular points, the topological charge of photonic crystals in momentum space is successfully transferred to optical vortex beams in real space.

    • Masaya Notomi
  • News & Views |

    The photovoltaics market has long been dominated by silicon, but further improvements of these solar cells require novel approaches. Now, triplet–triplet annihilation photon upconversion has been used to harvest photons from below the bandgap of silicon, extending the spectral response and potentially improving the efficiency of these cells.

    • Bo Albinsson
    •  & Axel Olesund
  • News & Views |

    Launching electrons to the centre of an optical field with a vortex phase profile via extreme-ultraviolet photoionization makes coherent imprinting of the spatial distribution of the vortex beam onto the electron wave packet possible.

    • Olga Smirnova
  • News & Views |

    Directly relating the complex second-harmonic-generation field to the second-order susceptibility tensor allows tomographic imaging of nonlinear optical contrast at high frame rates.

    • Paul J. Campagnola
  • Comment |

    Jonathan P. Dowling, who died in June, was a pioneer in quantum optics and one of the founders of the US government’s research programme in quantum information.

    • James Franson
    •  & Mark M. Wilde
  • Comment |

    Unidirectional and topological surface plasmon polaritons are currently attracting substantial interest and intense debate. Realistic material models and energy conservation considerations are essential to correctly understand extreme wave effects in non-reciprocal plasmonics, and to assess their potential for novel devices.

    • Francesco Monticone
  • News & Views |

    A correlation method that combines ultrasound and fluorescence enables imaging in strongly scattering environments.

    • Allard P. Mosk
  • News & Views |

    A phase transition between disordered and quasi-ordered states, known as the Berezinskii–Kosterlitz–Thouless transition, has now been revealed in a two-dimensional photonic ‘fluid’. The interplay between phase singularities and coherence may lead to new vortex-based optical applications.

    • Matthieu Bellec
    •  & Claire Michel
  • News & Views |

    New methods to control how laser pulses propagate inside a plasma could signify the start of a global race to demonstrate truly high-energy compact particle accelerators.

    • Rob J. Shalloo
    •  & Stuart P. D. Mangles
  • News & Views |

    The finding that hollow-core optical fibres can preserve the state of linearly polarized light over hundreds of metres with exceptional purity could benefit applications in sensing, gyroscopes and quantum optics.

    • Alexey V. Gladyshev
    •  & Igor A. Bufetov
  • News & Views |

    Using a photonic chip to generate the patterns of light needed for structured illumination microscopy could reduce the cost and complexity of super-resolution imaging.

    • Sara Abrahamsson
  • News & Views |

    Optical clocks held at slightly different heights provide a stringent test of general relativity comparable to space experiments and open new opportunities for clock-based geophysical sensing.

    • Kai Bongs
    •  & Yeshpal Singh
  • News & Views |

    A particular class of focused, pulsed light beams can propagate self-similarly in free space at a fixed group velocity. Now, scientists present a law of refraction that determines how the group velocity of these beams changes as they refract at an interface between two materials.

    • Vincent Ginis
  • News & Views |

    By utilizing exciton resonances in atomically thick semiconductors, researchers have now demonstrated the ultimate downscaling of optical lenses and reported on their efficacious electrical tunability.

    • Alex Krasnok
  • Comment |

    Philip Warren Anderson is one of the founding fathers of modern condensed-matter physics. With his death on 29 March 2020, we have lost one of the most influential physicists of the twentieth century.

    • Diederik S. Wiersma
    • , Bart A. van Tiggelen
    •  & Ad Lagendijk
  • Editorial |

    Research activities in the areas of X-ray imaging and ultraviolet sterilization illustrate how photonics is helping to combat the threat of COVID-19.

  • News & Views |

    Asymmetric forward and backward transmission through photonic structures can be achieved via optical nonlinearities, but existing systems have typically used slow thermo-optic effects. A new resonator design has now enabled low-loss, non-reciprocal pulse routing based on the Kerr nonlinearity in integrated silicon waveguides.

    • Eric A. Kittlaus
    • , Peter O. Weigel
    •  & William M. Jones
  • News & Views |

    Advanced computational imaging techniques have the potential to extract neural activity patterns from scattered data without reconstructing images.

    • Gordon Wetzstein
    •  & Isaac Kauvar
  • News & Views |

    A monolithic chip-scale ring laser gyroscope based on both Brillouin and Sagnac effects provides a sensitivity sufficient to measure sinusoidal rotations with an amplitude as small as 5 degrees per hour, thus enabling the first on-chip Earth rotation measurement.

    • Thibaut Sylvestre
  • Editorial |

    Integrated quantum photonic chips offer the promise of a convenient, scalable platform for performing tasks such as quantum communication and information processing.

  • News & Views |

    Using a photonic crystal slab combined with a conventional optical imaging system, a two-dimensional optical image differentiator is experimentally demonstrated for edge detection.

    • Wei Yan
    •  & Min Qiu
  • Meeting Report |

    Delegates at the BiOS symposium heard how artificial intelligence can transform medical imaging, with its ability to improve quality, speed and molecular specificity.

    • Rachel Won
  • News & Views |

    Dark-field microscopy is a widely used imaging method that emphasizes sharp edges and other small features, but typically requires specialized microscope components. Researchers have now engineered special substrates that enable dark-field microscopy using simple bright-field microscopes.

    • Mikhail A. Kats
  • News & Views |

    Exciton funnelling due to non-homogeneous strain was previously thought of as an efficient neutral exciton transport mechanism. New findings suggest that exciton funnelling might be negligible compared with another strain-dependent process, the conversion of neutral excitons into trions.

    • Riccardo Frisenda
    •  & Andres Castellanos-Gomez
  • News & Views |

    Two articles in Nature Photonics demonstrate how Einstein–Podolsky–Rosen entanglement can reduce quantum noise in gravitational-wave interferometers.

    • Pierre-François Cohadon
  • News & Views |

    The news that superconducting nanowire detectors can detect single photons with a timing precision of just a few picoseconds will benefit applications ranging from sensing to quantum communications.

    • Robert H. Hadfield
  • News & Views |

    Low-loss composite systems based on integrating transition metal dichalcogenide monolayers on silicon nitride waveguides exhibit an unexpectedly strong electro-refractive response at near-infrared wavelengths, which is crucial for optical communications.

    • Sylvia Xin Li
    •  & Michael S. Strano
  • News & Views |

    Technology borrowed from electron accelerator and beam physics looks set to push the performance of ultrafast-electron-diffraction-based pump–probe studies of matter.

    • Pietro Musumeci
  • Editorial |

    Does the popularity of a recent online photonics conference signify a growing appetite for a change in scientific interaction?

  • News & Views |

    The combination of high-order harmonic polarimetry and sub-cycle control of electronic trajectories gives insight into the birth of attosecond electronic wave packets in molecules.

    • Giuseppe Sansone
  • Meeting Report |

    Registration fees, travel costs and visas, and time away from home and the lab, are all factors that can make attending scientific meetings in person difficult. Can online conferences provide a solution?

    • David Pile
  • News & Views |

    A new light-field imaging scheme, employing stacks of transparent graphene photodetectors, has been demonstrated, providing a path to greatly simplify the otherwise complex three-dimensional imaging.

    • Khurram Shehzad
    •  & Yang Xu
  • News & Views |

    Carbon-dot-based light-emitting diodes with narrowband efficient emission in the deep blue are an attractive candidate for future high-colour-purity flat-panel display and lighting applications.

    • Biao Zhao
    • , Zhibin Wang
    •  & Zhan’ao Tan
  • News & Views |

    Quantitative phase gradient images can now be captured in a single shot thanks to the use of two layers of compact, multifunctional dielectric metasurfaces.

    • YoonSeok Baek
    •  & YongKeun Park