Physical sciences

  • Article
    | Open Access

    The development of anode-free batteries requires fundamental investigations at the current collector/electrolyte interface. Here, the authors report an atomically defective carbon current collector to improve the electrochemical behaviour of an anode-free Li-based cell.

    • Hyeokjin Kwon
    • , Ju-Hyuk Lee
    •  & Hee-Tak Kim
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Graphene nanoribbons are potential systems for engineering topological phases of matter, but the pre-required gapped phases are difficult to find. Here, the authors show that chiral graphene nanoribbons undergo a transition from metallic to topological insulators, and then to trivial band insulators as they are narrowed down to nanometer widths.

    • Jingcheng Li
    • , Sofia Sanz
    •  & Jose Ignacio Pascual
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Isopropenyl ethers (IPPEs) are essential intermediates for obtaining ketal-based prodrugs and biomaterials, but traditional approaches for their synthesis are limited by poor functional group compatibility and harsh reaction conditions. Here, the authors report an organocatalytic transisopropenylation approach for IPPE synthesis in mild reaction conditions and with wide range of substrates, and use it to prepare acid-sensitive ketal-linked prodrugs and biomaterials.

    • Na Yu
    • , Yang Xu
    •  & Shutao Guo
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The awareness of rock shape dependence in rockfall hazard assessment is growing, but experimental and field studies are scarce. This study presents a large data set of induced single block rockfall events quantifying the influence of rock shape and mass on its complex kinematic behaviour.

    • Andrin Caviezel
    • , Adrian Ringenbach
    •  & Perry Bartelt
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Resistive switching usually occurs by the formation of conducting filaments in the direction of current flow. Here the authors study an intriguing type of volatile metal-to-insulator resistive switching in (La,Sr)MnO3, which occurs by the formation of an insulating barrier perpendicular to the current.

    • Pavel Salev
    • , Lorenzo Fratino
    •  & Ivan K. Schuller
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The development of robust and efficient catalysts for CO2 hydrogenation to value-added chemicals is an urgent task. Here the authors report two-dimensional carbide catalyst based on earth-abundant molybdenum that hydrogenates CO2 with high activity, stable performance and tunable selectivity.

    • Hui Zhou
    • , Zixuan Chen
    •  & Christoph R. Müller
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Organic cluster-triggered emission (CTE) displays promising application in bioimaging, chemical sensing, and multicolor luminescence but circular polarize luminescence derived from CTE remains less studied. Here, the authors demonstrate CTE based CPL emission from a supramolecular film derived from solid phase molecular self-assembly.

    • Peilong Liao
    • , Shihao Zang
    •  & Yun Yan
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Wear-resistant metals have long been a pursuit of reducing wear-related energy and material loss. Here the authors present the ‘reactive wear protection’ strategy via friction-induced in situ formation of strong and deformable oxide nanocomposites on a surface.

    • Chang Liu
    • , Zhiming Li
    •  & Dierk Raabe
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Valley anisotropy is proposed theoretically to benefit the electrical transport of thermoelectric materials but it lacks experimental demonstration. Here, the authors demonstrate how to utilize the single anisotropic Fermi pocket in p-type Mg3Sb2 to enhance its thermoelectric properties.

    • Airan Li
    • , Chaoliang Hu
    •  & Tiejun Zhu
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Transfer of scarce phosphate to organic molecules is a significant challenge for prebiotic chemistry. Here authors show a prebiotic physicochemical cycle to activate orthophosphate and via a kinetically stable, thermodynamically activated molecule phosphorylate all of life’s basic building blocks.

    • Oliver R. Maguire
    • , Iris B. A. Smokers
    •  & Wilhelm T. S. Huck
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Here, the authors report on evidence of an excitonic species formed by electrons in high-energy conduction band states with a negative effective mass, explaining previous observations of quantum interference phenomena in two-dimensional semiconductors.

    • Kai-Qiang Lin
    • , Chin Shen Ong
    •  & John M. Lupton
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Enhancing electrode capacitance without compromising one other metrics for solid-state supercapacitors is of high interest yet difficult to achieve. Here the authors demonstrate a strategy of using nanofluidic electrode with very low porosity to increase the electrochemical capacitance of gel-based solid state supercapacitor.

    • Kefeng Xiao
    • , Taimin Yang
    •  & Da-Wei Wang
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The knowledge of atomic structure and structural instability of hybrid perovskites is crucial to understand their photoelectric properties and failure mechanism. Here, the authors utilise low-dose TEM imaging technique to investigate the atomic structure and decomposition pathway of MAPbI3 at the atomic scale.

    • Shulin Chen
    • , Changwei Wu
    •  & Peng Gao
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The ever-growing need for highly functional, compact, and integrated microfluidic devices often incurs lengthy and expensive manufacturing processes. Here, authors introduce a generalized 3D printing process that enables fast parallel fabrication of miniaturized, high resolution 3D components.

    • Jose L. Sanchez Noriega
    • , Nicholas A. Chartrand
    •  & Gregory P. Nordin
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The strength in BCC high-entropy alloys is associated with the type of mobile dislocations. Here the authors demonstrate by means of an ample array of experimental techniques that edge dislocations can control the strength of BCC high-entropy alloys.

    • Chanho Lee
    • , Francesco Maresca
    •  & W. A. Curtin
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Magic-angle twisted bilayer graphene exhibits a quantum anomalous Hall effect at 3/4 filling; however, its mechanism is debated. Here, the authors show that such a phase can be realized in a lattice model of twisted bilayer graphene in the strong coupling limit, and interpret the results in terms of a topological Mott insulator phase.

    • Bin-Bin Chen
    • , Yuan Da Liao
    •  & Zi Yang Meng
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Several hydrides have been observed high-Tc superconductivity under pressure, but a physical-chemical understanding of the properties enhancing Tc is still lacking. Here, the authors propose a magnitude named as networking value, combined with hydrogen fraction and the contribution of hydrogen to the density of states at Fermi level, can predict Tc of all hydrogen-based compounds with an accuracy of about 60 K.

    • Francesco Belli
    • , Trinidad Novoa
    •  & Ion Errea
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Activation of anionic redox in battery materials promises great benefits for battery materials, but remains an elusive phenomenon. Here, the authors present anion-doping as a novel strategy to unlock electrochemical activity in the cobalt/nickel free cathode material, Li2TiS3-xSex.

    • Bernhard T. Leube
    • , Clara Robert
    •  & Jean-Marie Tarascon
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Strong light-matter coupling has been realized at the level of single atoms and photons throughout most of the electromagnetic spectrum, except for the THz range. Here, the authors report a THz-scale transport gap, induced by vacuum fluctuations in carbon nanotube quantum dot through the deep strong coupling of a single electron to a THz resonator.

    • F. Valmorra
    • , K. Yoshida
    •  & T. Kontos
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Water shortage not only occurs in arid regions, but also in humid area with little precipitation, despite abundant fog. Authors develop robust and scalable 3D centimetric kirigami structures to control wind flow and regulate the trajectories of incoming fog, yielding high fog collection efficiency.

    • Jing Li
    • , Ranjiangshang Ran
    •  & Shu Yang
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry and the Fracture Risk Assessment Tool are recommended tools for osteoporotic fracture risk evaluation, but are underutilized. Here, the authors present an opportunistic tool to identify fractures, predict bone mineral density and evaluate fracture risk using plain pelvis and lumbar spine radiographs.

    • Chen-I Hsieh
    • , Kang Zheng
    •  & Chang-Fu Kuo
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Antiretroviral therapy (ART) for the treatment of HIV-1 requires life-long daily adherence to supress viral replication, and nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors that are commonly used in ART have not been converted into long-acting agents. Here, the authors report two lipophilic tenofovir (TVF) ProTide nanoformulations, NM1TFV and NM2TFV, which sustain drug levels above therapeutic concentrations for two months after a single intramuscular dose in rats.

    • Denise A. Cobb
    • , Nathan Smith
    •  & Benson Edagwa
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The development of fast and dynamic topological photonic platforms is an ongoing challenge. Here, the authors demonstrate a reprogrammable plasmonic topological insulator in which ultrafast electric switches allow for nanosecond-level switching time between different configurations.

    • Jian Wei You
    • , Qian Ma
    •  & Tie Jun Cui
  • Article
    | Open Access

    TENG suffers from two fundamental limitations: high output impedance and low charge transfer. Herein, these limitations are circumvented by leveraging the opposite-charge-enhancement effect and transistor-like device design, thereby achieving the instantaneous power density over 10 MW/m2 at the low frequency of ~ 1 Hz.

    • Hao Wu
    • , Steven Wang
    •  & Yunlong Zi
  • Article
    | Open Access

    High-nitrogen content polyhedral molecules are of fundamental interest for theory and for synthesis applications. The authors, using isomer selective, tunable soft photoionization reflectron time-of-flight mass spectrometry, identify the formation of a hitherto elusive prismatic P3N3 molecule during sublimation of PH3 and N2 ice mixtures exposed to energetic electrons.

    • Cheng Zhu
    • , André K. Eckhardt
    •  & Ralf I. Kaiser
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Transition metal kagome compounds have been shown to host flat bands in their bulk electronic spectrum. Here, using planar tunnelling spectroscopy supported by first-principles calculations, the authors report the signature of a novel type of flat band at the surface of antiferromagnetic kagome metal FeSn.

    • Minyong Han
    • , Hisashi Inoue
    •  & Joseph G. Checkelsky
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Optical excitation of transition metal dichalcogenide monolayers mostly generates excitons species with inherently short lifetime and spin/valley relaxation time. Here, the authors demonstrate efficient spin/valley optical pumping of resident electrons in n-doped WSe2 and WS2 monolayers.

    • Cedric Robert
    • , Sangjun Park
    •  & Xavier Marie
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Detection of the tumour boundary in prostate cancer is required for surgery. Here the authors present a fluorescent molecular rotor probe to target a prostate cancer marker, prostate-specific membrane antigen (PSMA), which they use in a xenograft mouse model to show it can be used for in vivo imaging.

    • Jingming Zhang
    • , Anastasia Rakhimbekova
    •  & Xing Yang
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Ultrafast diffraction is fundamental in capturing the structural dynamics of molecules. Here, the authors establish a variant of quantum state tomography for arbitrary degrees of freedom to characterize the molecular quantum states, which will enable the reconstruction of a quantum molecular movie from diffraction data.

    • Ming Zhang
    • , Shuqiao Zhang
    •  & Zheng Li
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Understanding the catalysts’ structure evolution under working conditions is challenging. Here the authors use a multiscale simulation approach and machine learning to study the structures and nucleation of CeO2-supported Pd clusters and single atoms at various catalyst loadings, temperatures, and exposures to CO.

    • Yifan Wang
    • , Jake Kalscheur
    •  & Dionisios G. Vlachos
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Lunar impact basins formed during the magma ocean solidification should have formed almost unidentifiable topographic and crustal thickness signatures, thus may escape detection. This result allows for a higher impact flux in the earliest epoch of Earth-Moon evolution.

    • K. Miljković
    • , M. A. Wieczorek
    •  & M. T. Zuber
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Deep eutectic solvents (DES) are intriguing green reaction media for biomass processing, however, undesired lignin condensation is a typical drawback. Here the authors develop a tunable ternary DES system that allows for stabilization of reactive intermediates for efficient lignocellulose fractionation.

    • Yongzhuang Liu
    • , Noemi Deak
    •  & Katalin Barta
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Efficient oxygen activation is crucial for catalytic oxidation reaction, but highly depends on the construction of active sites. Here, dual adjacent Fe atoms anchored on MnO2 can assemble into a diatomic site, which activates molecular oxygen to form an active intermediate species Fe(O = O)Fe for CO oxidation.

    • Huayu Gu
    • , Xiao Liu
    •  & Lizhi Zhang
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Image-based simulation for obtaining physical quantities is limited by the uncertainty in the underlying image segmentation. Here, the authors introduce a workflow for efficiently quantifying segmentation uncertainty and creating uncertainty distributions of the resulting physics quantities.

    • Michael C. Krygier
    • , Tyler LaBonte
    •  & Scott A. Roberts
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Through development of non-fullerene acceptors, OPVs have reached efficiencies of 18%, yet the inadequate operational lifetime still poses a challenge for the commercialisation. Here, the authors investigate the origin of instability of NFA solar cells, and propose some strategies to mitigate this issue.

    • Yongxi Li
    • , Xiaheng Huang
    •  & Stephen R. Forrest
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Superconductivity in FeSe attracted great interests to understand the mechanism of high temperature superconductivity. Here, the authors report a pressure induced superconductivity with a highest Tc of ~9 K in MnSe.

    • T. L. Hung
    • , C. H. Huang
    •  & T. K. Lee
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Here, Broszeit et al. show that circulating A/H3N2 viruses have evolved binding specificity to α2,6-sialosides on extended LacNAc moieties and therefore cannot agglutinate erythrocytes. Applying glycan remodeling allows to install functional receptors on erythrocytes and promotes identification of newly circulating variants to facilitate vaccine design.

    • Frederik Broszeit
    • , Rosanne J. van Beek
    •  & Geert-Jan Boons
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Ultramafic olivine-rich achondrites provide insight into the missing mantle problem in the asteroid belt. The petrology and geochemistry of these samples suggests they are related to Vesta or the Vestoids.

    • Zoltan Vaci
    • , James M. D. Day
    •  & Andreas Pack
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Atomic monolayers of large-gap quantum spin Hall insulators are challenging to synthesize. Here, the authors realize massive Dirac fermions emerging from Bloch wave-function interference on a triangular lattice and achieve topologically non-trivial domains with unprecedented spatial extension.

    • Maximilian Bauernfeind
    • , Jonas Erhardt
    •  & Giorgio Sangiovanni
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Commonly, large π-conjugated systems facilitate low-energy electronic transitions. Here, the authors demonstrate that the relief of excited-state antiaromaticity of the benzene core leads to large Stokes shifts, and allows the construction of emitters covering the entire visible spectrum without the need of extending π-conjugation.

    • Heechan Kim
    • , Woojin Park
    •  & Dongwhan Lee
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The SARS-CoV-2 Spike protein is essential for viral infectivity and binds to the host receptor ACE2. Here, the authors present MD simulations of the Spike protein and its variants of concern and observe that the Spike protein is destabilised by moderate static electric fields, and undergoes field-induced conformational changes that hinder binding to ACE2.

    • Claudia R. Arbeitman
    • , Pablo Rojas
    •  & Martin E. Garcia
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The long-term cycling of Li-S batteries depends on the polysulfides shuttling regulation. Here, the authors present a saccharide-based binder system to control the polysulfides migration and improve the cycle life of a Li-S pouch cell.

    • Yingyi Huang
    • , Mahdokht Shaibani
    •  & Mainak Majumder
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The “anti-branching rule”, introduced in 1950, excludes branched polyphosphates from biological relevance due to their supposedly rapid hydrolysis. Here, the authors synthesize monodisperse branched polyphosphates and demonstrate their unexpected stability in water, as well as provide evidence for their competence in phosphorylation.

    • Tobias Dürr-Mayer
    • , Danye Qiu
    •  & Henning J. Jessen
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The generation of alkyl radicals through deoxygenation of abundant alcohols via photoredox catalysis is of interest. In this study, the authors report a one-pot strategy for visible-light-promoted photoredox coupling of alcohols with electron-deficient alkenes, assisted by carbon disulfide and triphenylphosphine.

    • Hong-Mei Guo
    •  & Xuesong Wu