Wrinkled shells

September issue

This month we have an Insight on complex optics, examine a theory for how elastic membranes wrinkle, and consider large-scale quantum simulations in a trapped ion processor.


  • Complex optics insight

    Disorder and mode interactions are often treated as sources of noise, but can shape the flow of light in interesting and useful ways. This Insight reviews the fundamental physics and broad applications of optics in disordered and multimodal media.

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  • Cervix and breast carcinomas are highly heterogeneous in their mechanical properties across scales. This heterogeneity provides the tumour with stability and room for cell motility.

    • Thomas Fuhs
    • Franziska Wetzel
    • Josef A. Käs
  • Shot noise has traditionally been used to measure the charge of quasiparticles in a variety of mesoscopic systems. However, at sufficiently low temperatures, this usual notion tends to break down for fractional quantum Hall effect states.

    • Sourav Biswas
    • Rajarshi Bhattacharyya
    • Yuval Gefen
  • The quantum kicked rotor is a paradigmatic non-interacting model of quantum chaos and ergodicity breaking. An experiment with a kicked Bose–Einstein condensate now explores the influence of many-body interactions on the onset of quantum chaos.

    • Jun Hui See Toh
    • Katherine C. McCormick
    • Subhadeep Gupta
    • Fractional charges are one of the hallmarks of topological matter and the building blocks of various topological devices. Now, there are indications that their fingerprint in terms of electrical noise is less obvious, but more universal, than expected.

      • Stefano Roddaro
      News & Views
    • Evidence for an exotic form of the Kondo effect has been obtained by placing magnetic atoms on single-layer 1T-TaSe2, which is a quantum spin liquid candidate. Unlike conventional Kondo screening, which arises from conduction electrons in a metal, the Kondo effect in 1T-TaSe2 arises from charge-neutral particles known as spinons.

      Research Briefing
    • A quantum rotor periodically kicked stops absorbing energy after a certain time and enters into a localized regime. Two experiments with cold atoms have now shown how many-body interactions can suppress dynamical localization.

      • Jakub Zakrzewski
      News & Views
    • Laser light is usually limited to the same wavelength range as the spontaneous emission of the active material. A judicious choice of dielectric coatings on the cavity has now enabled laser emission far beyond the spectral range of the gain medium.

      • Alessandra Toncelli
      News & Views
    • Using a quantum annealer to simulate the dynamics of phase transitions shows that superconducting quantum devices can coherently evolve systems of thousands of individual elements. This is an important step toward quantum simulation and optimization.

      • David Bernal Neira
      News & Views
  • Fluid simulations today are remarkably realistic. In this Comment I discuss some of the most striking results from the past 20 years of computer graphics research that made this happen.

    • Károly Zsolnai-Fehér
  • Declaring a cosmopolitan right to scientific progress risks perpetuating the inequities it aims to overcome. Instead, science ought to be reimagined in a way that directly addresses its links to nationalist projects and harmful capitalist practices.

    • Matthew Sample
    • Irina Cheema
  • Although the ohm is ‘only’ a derived SI unit, the assumption that it plays an unobtrusive role could not be further from the truth, as Karin Cedergren reveals.

    • Karin Cedergren
    Measure for Measure
  • It is easy to dismiss research into the foundations of quantum mechanics as irrelevant to physicists in other areas. Adopting this attitude misses opportunities to appreciate the richness of quantum mechanics.

A simulated speckle pattern created when white light passes through a thin, multiply scattering medium.

Complex optics

Disorder and mode interactions are often treated as sources of noise, but can shape the flow of light in interesting and useful ways.


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