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Volume 19 Issue 2, February 2023

Homogeneous transition

The intermediate states in photo-excited phase transitions are expected to be inhomogeneous. In this work, a spatially resolved ultrafast X-ray imaging technique shows that the early part of the metal–insulator transition in VO2 is homogeneous and that the inhomogeneity only develops after a few hundred femtoseconds.

See Johnson et al.

Image: Patricia Bondia. Cover Design: Amie Fernandez


  • 11 February marks the International Day of Women and Girls in Science. We ask what it takes to be considered one.



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  • The authority of science within society is contested by antiscientific movements. To restore trust, science education should involve students in the social processes of knowledge production.

    • P. Riccardi
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News & Views

  • Ultrafast laser fields are able to widely tune the physical properties of semiconductors by generating virtual states. Using strong fields at energies below the optical bandgap, control of excitons in two-dimensional semiconductors has now been demonstrated.

    • Ioannis Paradisanos
    • Bernhard Urbaszek
    News & Views
  • The magnetic flux in a superconducting loop can only change by discrete jumps called phase slips. The energy dissipated by an individual phase slip has now been detected thanks to advances in precision temperature measurements.

    • José Aumentado
    News & Views
  • Manipulating the chirality of electron vortices using attosecond metrology allows the clocking of continuum–continuum transitions, bringing the dream of time-resolved quantum physics a little closer.

    • Jean Marcel Ngoko Djiokap
    News & Views
  • Ten years after the discovery of the Higgs boson, the ATLAS Collaboration probes its underlying mechanism, the electroweak symmetry breaking, by measuring the scattering of Z bosons, one of the mediators of the weak interactions.

    • Pietro Govoni
    • Andrea Massironi
    News & Views
  • Particles in space can be accelerated to high energy, the distribution of which follows a power law. This has now been reproduced in laboratory experiments mimicking astrophysical scenarios, which helps to understand the underlying mechanisms.

    • Giovanni Lapenta
    News & Views
  • Quantum mechanical fluctuations of the electromagnetic field in a vacuum between two close together objects result in an attractive force. Now, it has been experimentally shown that by exploiting a similar repulsive interaction, attraction between objects can be modulated simply by tuning temperature.

    • Victoria Esteso Carrizo
    News & Views
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Research Briefings

  • Organs in the human body have complex networks of fluid-filled tubes and loops with different geometries and topologies. By studying self-organized, synthetic tissues, the link between topological transitions and the emergence of tissue architecture was revealed.

    Research Briefing
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  • Majorana zero modes are emergent excitations in topological superconductors. This Perspective introduces the physics of these modes, recaps the recent history of the experimental search for them and discusses the future prognosis for success.

    • Sankar Das Sarma
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  • During development, tissues with complex topology emerge from collections of cells with simple geometry. This process in neuroepithelial organoids is governed by two topologically distinct modes of epithelial fusion.

    • Keisuke Ishihara
    • Arghyadip Mukherjee
    • Frank Jülicher
    Letter Open Access
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  • A formal analysis of the physical limits of entanglement manipulation shows that it cannot be done reversibly, highlighting an important difference from thermodynamics.

    • Ludovico Lami
    • Bartosz Regula
    Article Open Access
  • Generalized measurements that do not correspond to conventional basis projections of the quantum wavefunction are a part of several important protocols in quantum information. These measurements can be certifiably performed on higher-dimensional systems using optical fibre technology.

    • Daniel Martínez
    • Esteban S. Gómez
    • Gustavo Lima
  • Superconducting currents around a loop containing a weak link can be quantized and only change during discrete events called phase slips. Now, the heat generated by a single phase slip and the subsequent relaxation have been experimentally observed.

    • E. Gümüş
    • D. Majidi
    • C. B. Winkelmann
  • Multidimensional coherent spectroscopy measurements in iron-based superconductors demonstrate how the coupling between a superconductor and strong light pulses can drive the transition into a non-equilibrium superconducting state with distinct collective modes.

    • L. Luo
    • M. Mootz
    • J. Wang
    Article Open Access
  • In bosonic systems, the presence of particles in a given quantum level can enhance the transition rates into that state, an effect known as bosonic stimulation. Bosonic enhancement of light scattering has now been observed in an ultracold Bose gas.

    • Yu-Kun Lu
    • Yair Margalit
    • Wolfgang Ketterle
  • The intermediate states in photo-excited phase transitions are expected to be inhomogeneous. However, ultrafast X-ray imaging shows the early part of the metal–insulator transition in VO2 is homogeneous but then becomes heterogeneous.

    • Allan S. Johnson
    • Daniel Perez-Salinas
    • Simon E. Wall
    Article Open Access
  • Most temporal analyses of multivariate time series rely on pairwise statistics. A study combining network theory and topological data analysis now shows how to characterize the dynamics of signals at all orders of interactions in real-world data.

    • Andrea Santoro
    • Federico Battiston
    • Enrico Amico
  • Attosecond circular-dichroism chronoscopy—a spectroscopy technique that employs two circularly polarized pulses in co-rotating and counter-rotating geometries—can measure the amplitudes and phases of continuum–continuum transitions in electron vortices.

    • Meng Han
    • Jia-Bao Ji
    • Hans Jakob Wörner
  • The ATLAS Collaboration reports the observation of the electroweak production of two jets and a Z-boson pair. This process is related to vector-boson scattering and allows the nature of electroweak symmetry breaking to be probed.

    • G. Aad
    • B. Abbott
    • L. Zwalinski
    Article Open Access
  • Laboratory experiments reveal the underlying mechanism of turbulent reconnection, including electron acceleration. These findings are directly relevant for studies of flares in the solar corona.

    • Yongli Ping
    • Jiayong Zhong
    • Jie Zhang
  • Casimir forces are normally attractive and cause stiction, that is, static friction preventing surfaces in contact from starting to move. Now, a system exhibiting tunable repulsive critical Casimir forces, relevant for the development of micro- and nanodevices, is demonstrated.

    • Falko Schmidt
    • Agnese Callegari
    • Giovanni Volpe
    Article Open Access
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Amendments & Corrections

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Measure for Measure

  • Standards recommended by the International Organization for Standardization are often hidden in plain sight. Angelique Botha, Chair of ISO/TC 334 for Reference Materials, tells us where to look.

    • Angelique Botha
    Measure for Measure
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