Materials science articles within Nature Physics


  • Review Article |

    Plasmonic excitations can enhance the interaction between a metal and molecules adsorbed onto its surface. This Review summarizes the different effects involved in this process and places them into a framework based on electron scattering.

    • Andrei Stefancu
    • , Naomi J. Halas
    •  & Emiliano Cortes
  • Article |

    A multiscale model of muscle as a fluid-filled sponge suggests that hydraulics limits rapid contractions and that the mechanical response of muscle is non-reciprocal.

    • Suraj Shankar
    •  & L. Mahadevan
  • Article |

    Topological boundary modes within charge-ordered states have not yet been observed experimentally. Now an in-gap boundary mode, stemming solely from the charge order, is visualized in the topological material Ta2Se8I.

    • Maksim Litskevich
    • , Md Shafayat Hossain
    •  & M. Zahid Hasan
  • News & Views |

    Multi-step transitions between a variety of topological spin textures have been unveiled in a centrosymmetric magnet, which may enable efficient multistate memory and logic devices.

    • Jayjit Kumar Dey
    •  & Sujit Das
  • Research Briefing |

    Ultrafast light pulses, if they are sufficiently intense, can induce phase transitions on ultrafast timescales. It is now shown that when a system is first excited by a weak preparatory pulse, this generates local changes in structure that transiently lower the energy barrier to the phase transition, enabling high-speed and energy-efficient transitions.

  • News & Views |

    A single light-emitting dye molecule precisely placed within the tiny gap of a metal nanodimer boosts light–matter coupling — a step closer to the development of quantum devices operating at room temperature.

    • Rohit Chikkaraddy
  • Article |

    The mechanism by which two-dimensional materials remain stable at a finite temperature is still under debate. Now, numerical calculations suggest that rotational symmetry is crucial in suppressing anharmonic effects that lead to structural instability.

    • Unai Aseginolaza
    • , Josu Diego
    •  & Ion Errea
  • News & Views |

    Spiral waves of cell density can form and propagate through bacterial biofilms. These waves are formed by a self-organization process that coordinates pulling forces between neighbouring cells.

    • Guram Gogia
    •  & David R. Johnson
  • Article |

    A Dirac quantum spin liquid phase is predicted to have a continuum of fractionalized spinon excitations with a Dirac cone dispersion. A spin continuum consistent with this picture has now been observed in neutron scattering measurements.

    • Zhenyuan Zeng
    • , Chengkang Zhou
    •  & Shiliang Li
  • Research Briefing |

    Rotational symmetry is shown to protect the quadratic dispersion of out-of-plane flexural vibrations in graphene and other two-dimensional materials against phonon–phonon interactions, making the bending rigidity of these materials non-divergent. The quadratic dispersion is then consistent with the propagation of sound in the graphene plane.

  • Article |

    As amorphous solids, glasses and gels are similar, but the origins of their different elastic properties are unclear. Simulations now suggest differing free-energy-minimizing pathways: structural ordering for glasses and interface reduction for gels.

    • Yinqiao Wang
    • , Michio Tateno
    •  & Hajime Tanaka
  • News & Views |

    The shape and trajectory of a crack plays a crucial role in material fracture. High-precision experiments now directly capture this phenomenon, unveiling the intricate 3D nature of cracks.

    • Michael D. Bartlett
  • Article |

    The occurrence of propagating spiral waves in multicellular organisms is associated with key biological functions. Now this type of wave has also been observed in dense bacterial populations, probably resulting from non-reciprocal cell–cell interactions.

    • Shiqi Liu
    • , Ye Li
    •  & Yilin Wu
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Leggett modes can occur when superconductivity arises in more than one band in a material and represent oscillation of the relative phases of the two superconducting condensates. Now, this mode is observed in Cd3As2, a Dirac semimetal.

    • Joseph J. Cuozzo
    • , W. Yu
    •  & Enrico Rossi
  • News & Views |

    Even by shining classical light on a single opening, one can perform a double-slit experiment and discover a surprising variety of quantum mechanical multi-photon correlations — thanks to surface plasmon polaritons and photon-number-resolving detectors.

    • Martijn Wubs
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Experiments probing three-dimensional crack propagation show that the critical strain energy needed to drive a crack is directly proportional to its geodesic length. This insight is a step towards a fully three-dimensional theory of crack propagation.

    • Xinyue Wei
    • , Chenzhuo Li
    •  & John M. Kolinski
  • Article |

    Topologically protected hinge modes could be important for developing quantum devices, but electronic transport through those states has not been demonstrated. Now quantum transport has been shown in gapless topological hinge states.

    • Md Shafayat Hossain
    • , Qi Zhang
    •  & M. Zahid Hasan
  • News & Views |

    Ageing is a non-linear, irreversible process that defines many properties of glassy materials. Now, it is shown that the so-called material-time formalism can describe ageing in terms of equilibrium-like properties.

    • Beatrice Ruta
    •  & Daniele Cangialosi
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The standard current–phase relation in tunnel Josephson junctions involves a single sinusoidal term, but real junctions are more complicated. The effects of higher Josephson harmonics have now been identified in superconducting qubit devices.

    • Dennis Willsch
    • , Dennis Rieger
    •  & Ioan M. Pop
  • News & Views |

    It has long been predicted that spin-1/2 antiferromagnets on the kagome lattice should feature a series of plateaus in the change of its magnetization under an applied magnetic field. A quantum plateau of this kind has now been observed experimentally.

    • Gia-Wei Chern
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The existence of Bragg glasses—featuring nearly perfect crystalline order and glassy features—has yet to be experimentally confirmed for disordered charge-density-wave systems. A machine-learning-based experimental study now provides evidence for a Bragg glass phase in the charge density waves of PdxErTe3.

    • Krishnanand Mallayya
    • , Joshua Straquadine
    •  & Eun-Ah Kim
  • News & Views |

    Some exotic metals exhibit competing electronic states that can be influenced by small perturbations. Now, a study of a kagome superconductor shows that this competition is exquisitely sensitive to weak strain fields, providing insight into its anomalous electronic properties.

    • Stephen D. Wilson
  • News & Views |

    When cracks creep forward in our three-dimensional world, they do so because of accompanying cracks racing perpendicular to the main direction of motion with almost sonic speed. Clever experiments have now directly demonstrated this phenomenon.

    • Michael Marder
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The electronic transport properties of charge-ordered kagome metals are controversial. Now careful measurements on unperturbed samples show that previously measured anisotropy in the transport occurs only when external perturbations are present.

    • Chunyu Guo
    • , Glenn Wagner
    •  & Philip J. W. Moll
  • News & Views |

    Electronic transport measurements of the anomalous Hall effect can probe properties of a frustrated kagome spin ice that are hidden from conventional thermodynamic and magnetic probes.

    • Enke Liu
  • Research Briefing |

    Studies of a biological active nematic fluid reveal a spontaneous self-constraint that arises between self-motile topological defects and mesoscale coherent flow structures. The defects follow specific contours of the flow field, on which vorticity and strain rate balance, and hence, contrary to expectation, they break mirror symmetry.

  • Article |

    When applying sufficient strain, the flow of dense granular matter becomes critical. It is now shown that this state corresponds to random loose packing for spheres with different friction coefficients and that these packings can be mapped onto the frictionless hard-sphere system.

    • Yi Xing
    • , Ye Yuan
    •  & Yujie Wang
  • Article |

    Dense suspensions are granular materials suspended in a liquid at high packing fractions, exhibiting high viscosity. The latter is now shown to be related to the formation of a network of rigid clusters at large shear stress.

    • Michael van der Naald
    • , Abhinendra Singh
    •  & Heinrich M. Jaeger