News & Views

  • News & Views |

    Animals seem capable of an infinite variety of movement, yet also exhibit substantial stereotypy in repeated actions. A beautiful view of worm behaviour now shows that the worm’s state evolves deterministically but is bounced chaotically between unstable periodic orbits.

    • Jane Loveless
    •  & Barbara Webb
  • News & Views |

    Populations of organisms can be regarded as clouds of genetic variants evolving passively in response to mutation and natural selection. Counterdiabatic driving — a tool borrowed from quantum control — now offers the possibility of actively controlling both the rate and route followed by an evolving population.

    • Daniel M. Weinreich
  • News & Views |

    An atomic spin oscillator coupled to a mechanical membrane resonator forms an effective negative-mass oscillator. Entanglement in this hybrid quantum system is created by a backaction-evading position measurement, despite the macroscopic separation.

    • Brian D’Urso
    •  & James Millen
  • News & Views |

    Although quantum mechanics is essential to understand microscopic systems, it has little effect on heavier objects. Experiments have now put strict constraints on theories that use gravity to explain the absence of large-scale quantum effects.

    • M. S. Kim
  • News & Views |

    The properties of anyons — two-dimensional particles that are neither fermions nor bosons — have been directly measured in a quantum Hall interferometer.

    • Rui-Rui Du
  • News & Views |

    When a semiconductor is embedded inside a microcavity, infrared photons have been shown to bind electrons and holes together as excitons. This result opens the door for quantum material engineering based on light–matter interactions.

    • Meera M. Parish
  • News & Views |

    The discussion of the quantum mechanical Wigner’s friend thought experiment has regained intensity. Recent theoretical results and experimental tests restrict the possibility of maintaining an observer-independent notion of measurement outcomes.

    • Časlav Brukner
  • News & Views |

    A mooted advantage of high-dimensional states is their robustness to noise, yet their fragility in noisy channels has hindered their deployment. A demonstration shows how to exploit entanglement to restore quantum correlations lost in transmission.

    • Andrew Forbes
    •  & Isaac Nape
  • News & Views |

    An exactly solvable model for superconductivity includes two crucial features of the cuprates and sheds light on unexplained experiments.

    • Jan Zaanen
  • News & Views |

    Squeezed light is useful for metrology and quantum information. An optomechanical squeezed light source that works at room temperature will facilitate the technological applications of quantum light.

    • André Xuereb
  • News & Views |

    Near-term quantum computations are susceptible to noise that — left uncorrected — can destroy the correlations responsible for quantum computational speedups. New work develops tools for bolstering the noise resilience of these speedups.

    • Bill Fefferman
  • News & Views |

    Novel non-equilibrium phases of matter have recently become the focus of intense interest. The realization of topological phases which cannot exist under the constraints of thermodynamic equilibrium is a key aim.

    • Mark S. Rudner
  • News & Views |

    Everybody who has ever made a paper airplane and been disappointed as it spins out of control, crashing to the ground, knows how tricky achieving suitable trim and stability for gliding can be. But, somehow, wiggling flying snakes glide without tumbling.

    • Jim Usherwood
  • News & Views |

    An elegant experiment showing that acoustic waves are amplified after scattering by a rotating body demonstrates an effect predicted in 1971 by Yakov Zel’dovich. This result has implications for the understanding of scattering from black holes.

    • Bruce W. Drinkwater
  • News & Views |

    Experiments show how the magnetic order in antiferromagnets can be manipulated through lattice vibrations excited by a laser. This induces a large and reversible magnetic moment at very high speed.

    • Dominik M. Juraschek
    •  & Prineha Narang
  • News & Views |

    Quantum cascade lasers are bright and compact semiconductor lasers that emit light in the mid- to far-infrared spectral region. The use of a closed ring cavity has now set them on the path towards ultrafast pulses.

    • Johann Riemensberger
  • News & Views |

    A laser–plasma experiment has recreated shock waves in collisionless, weakly magnetized conditions and evidenced electron acceleration to relativistic energies, offering unprecedented insight into a long-standing problem in astrophysics.

    • Laurent Gremillet
    •  & Martin Lemoine
  • News & Views |

    Microscopic motile cilia, beating in synchrony across large scales, move the liquid lining of our lungs, protecting from infection and dirt. Surprisingly, a disordered arrangement of cilia, as observed in nature, is shown to be optimal for airway clearance.

    • Pietro Cicuta
  • News & Views |

    Systems of neutral atoms are gradually gaining currency as a promising candidate for realizing large-scale quantum computing. The achievement of a record-high fidelity in quantum operation with alkaline-earth Rydberg atoms is a case in point.

    • Wenhui Li
  • News & Views |

    Equilibrium self-assembly processes find free-energy minima but no such general statement holds for systems driven out of equilibrium. A new study has employed laser-induced convective flows to achieve dissipative self-assembly across multiple scales with universal growth and fluctuation statistics.

    • Gili Bisker
  • News & Views |

    Artificial neural networks now allow the dynamics of supercooled liquids to be predicted from their structure alone in an unprecedented way, thus providing a powerful new tool to study the physics of the glass transition.

    • Giulio Biroli
  • News & Views |

    Single rare-earth ions are hard to observe and even harder to use as qubits. However, with the help of coupling to an optical cavity and clever engineering of selection rules, a big step has been taken to establish their new role in the quantum world.

    • Roman Kolesov
    •  & Jörg Wrachtrup
  • News & Views |

    An ultra-cold atomic gas is used to image a phase transition in an iron pnictide with micrometre resolution.

    • James Analytis
  • News & Views |

    Spin ice is known as the magnetic analogue of ordinary ice, where the behaviour of its spins closely mirrors that of protons in water ice. It now has a sibling based on higher-order magnetic octupoles.

    • Dmytro S. Inosov
  • News & Views |

    Experiments carried out at the National Ignition Facility show that the degree of degeneracy can be varied for an electron plasma. Partially degenerate electron plasmas make up most of the interiors of low mass stars, brown dwarfs and giant planets.

    • Adam J. Burgasser
  • News & Views |

    Speed is of the essence when it comes to signal processing, but electronic switching times have reached a limit. Optically controlled tunnel currents across a nanoscale plasmonic gap could considerably accelerate future nanoelectronic devices.

    • Olga Smirnova
  • News & Views |

    Using the coupling between electrons and phonons in a Weyl semimetal allows the detection of the dynamical chiral magnetic effect.

    • Xi Dai
  • News & Views |

    A small twist to a field theory, a giant leap for its phenomenology. Waiving the standard requirement of energy conservation in linear elasticity unravels unexpected mechanical behaviour that has previously been overlooked.

    • Valerio Peri
    •  & Sebastian D. Huber
  • News & Views |

    Complex contagions — for example when ideas spread across a network — are thought to be different from the simple contagions observed for infections. Simple contagions are now shown to exhibit a key macroscopic characteristic of complex behaviour when they interact.

    • Sune Lehmann
  • News & Views |

    Despite the wide use of mode-locked lasers, no general theory for mode-locking exists. An attractor dissection approach provides some intuitive understanding of the complex dynamics in one type of mode-locking.

    • F. Ömer Ilday
  • News & Views |

    Cooling of trapped ions with a neutral buffer gas makes the study of atom–ion hybrid systems possible in the quantum regime. The new record low achieved opens the door to numerous opportunities, including full control over the atom–ion interactions.

    • Carlo Sias
  • News & Views |

    An electoral model predicts that polarized and alienated voters lead to unstable elections, like phase transitions in an Ising model. Such physics-inspired models may help political scientists devise electoral reforms to quench instability.

    • Soren Jordan
  • News & Views |

    Electrons driven through a suspended carbon nanotube by a constant bias excite mechanical vibrations — including self-sustaining oscillations — and, in some cases, even suppress them down to only a few quanta.

    • Martino Poggio
    •  & Nicola Rossi
  • News & Views |

    Synchronization of biochemical oscillators that are responsible for biological rhythms costs free energy. This theoretical result suggests that part of the adenosine triphosphate molecules consumed by a Kai oscillator is necessary for synchronization.

    • Andre C. Barato
  • News & Views |

    A layer-by-layer study of TaSe2 shows how this material becomes increasingly insulating as it thins to a monolayer. Scanning tunnelling microscopy reveals the electronic correlations underlying this insulator with atomic resolution.

    • Katharina J. Franke
    •  & Felix von Oppen
  • News & Views |

    Planets are assembled from the ground up, beginning with millimetre-sized interstellar dust grains. Microgravity experiments suggest that centimetre-sized dust aggregates form from these smaller grains via collisional charging.

    • Katherine Follette
  • News & Views |

    High-magnetic-field experiments on the recently discovered unconventional superconductor UTe2 are consistent with p-wave pairing arising while time-reversal symmetry is broken. In turn, this suggests that this material is a candidate for a chiral superconductor that may be exploited for topological quantum computing.

    • Marc Janoschek
  • News & Views |

    Qubits cannot exist without nonlinearity, but nonlinear elements in superconducting circuits lead to losses. A superconducting qubit has now been realized by nonlinearly coupling two microwave resonators, offering the promise of long coherence times.

    • Gerhard Kirchmair
  • News & Views |

    Finding ground states of given Hamiltonians is crucial for quantum simulation — a promising application of quantum computers. An algorithm now finds these states using minimal resources, making it implementable in near-term noisy devices.

    • Peter J. Love
  • News & Views |

    An experiment using ultrafast light pulses demonstrates how to induce a transient chiral electron state in a trivial semimetal.

    • Justin C. W. Song
  • News & Views |

    The ferromagnetism of iron has been known for millennia. Now a rotational form of spontaneous crystallographic ordering has been discovered. This touches upon fundamental questions about the relation between symmetry, structure and order in matter.

    • Manfred Fiebig
  • News & Views |

    Physical forces have a profound influence on bacterial cell function and physiology. The new tools of nanophysics are bringing to light a tight connection between biomolecular mechanisms and mechanical forces in bacterial cell division.

    • Albertus Viljoen
    •  & Yves F. Dufrêne
  • News & Views |

    It is generally difficult to know in advance if a sheet of paper can be folded into an origami shape, but for quadrilateral crease patterns a tiling approach can identify all possible ways of folding them.

    • Christian Santangelo
  • News & Views |

    Non-Hermitian systems with gain and loss give rise to exceptional points with exceptional properties. An experiment with superconducting qubits now offers a first step towards studying these singularities in the quantum domain.

    • Stefan Rotter
  • News & Views |

    An unusual flavour of critical phenomena with a stable quantum critical phase of matter is observed in a strongly correlated material and linked to the underlying lattice structure.

    • Aline Ramires
  • News & Views |

    Two independent cold-atom experiments have demonstrated the building blocks for the quantum simulation of dynamical gauge fields — an advance that holds promise for our understanding of computationally intractable problems in high-energy physics.

    • Cheng Chin
  • News & Views |

    A model fluid comprising rotating magnetic particles behaves according to the equations of hydrodynamics, but for a few key differences due to broken mirror symmetry. The resulting active chiral fluid is characterized by parity-odd Hall viscosity.

    • Alexander Abanov
  • News & Views |

    The demonstration of high-resolution spectroscopy of Sr2 molecules trapped in an optical lattice at the ‘magic’ wavelength opens the way to precision control of molecular excitations.

    • Nicola Poli
  • News & Views |

    Whether a cell divides symmetrically or asymmetrically during early development determines the fate of its progeny. Now cell size has emerged as a key player in making this decision.

    • Alexandra Jilkine