Reviews & Analysis

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  • Scintillators used in X-ray detectors typically require the use of heavy metal atoms to efficiently harvest ionizing radiation. Now the use of halogens is shown to yield efficient, metal-free organic scintillators.

    • Jia-Kai Chen
    • Naoto Shirahata
    • Hong-Tao Sun
    News & Views
  • The journey to realize a terahertz quantum cascade laser that operates at room temperature has taken a jump forward with news of a device that operates at –23 °C, within the reach of Peltier coolers.

    • Carlo Sirtori
    News & Views
  • Two independent reports of directly modulated lasers with bandwidths of >60 GHz may help bring data rates beyond 200 Gb s–1 to low-cost optical communication systems. Key to the successes has been managing photonic feedback effects within the laser cavities.

    • Ute Troppenz
    • Jochen Kreissl
    News & Views
  • The first demonstration of an optical parametric oscillator using a photonic crystal microcavity is promising for the future development of on-chip light sources for applications in integrated quantum optics.

    • Eiichi Kuramochi
    News & Views
  • The potential of machine-learning application to the field of ultrafast photonics is reviewed, with key examples including pulsed lasers, and control and characterization of ultrafast propagation dynamics.

    • Goëry Genty
    • Lauri Salmela
    • Sergei K. Turitsyn
    Review Article
  • The manipulation of the quantum properties of light involves its technically challenging strong interaction with matter. Now, an experiment shows that when light propagates through a waveguide it only takes a weakly coupled line of atoms to single out its photons, or bunch them together, unveiling and controlling its quantum nature.

    • Pablo Solano
    News & Views
  • Beneath a forest in Villigen, Switzerland, a new compact free-electron laser facility is generating brilliant X-ray flashes.

    • Makina Yabashi
    News & Views
  • Unexpected multimode solitary waves can be formed spontaneously in hollow-core fibres, hinting at a vast world of exciting nonlinear optics, with applications for generating few-cycle, ultra-intense pulses.

    • Logan G. Wright
    • Frank W. Wise
    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