Michael Schirber

Photo of Michael Schirber

Michael Schirber is a Corresponding Editor for Physics Magazine based in Lyon, France.


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Hiding Secrets in Spontaneous Patterns

A new, secure way to send messages camouflages them inside the same kind of self-organizing patterns that appear in vegetation patterns and the stripes on animal coats. Read More »

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Another Step Back for Wave-Particle Duality

A new thought experiment makes it clearer than ever that photons aren’t simply particles or waves. Read More »

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Carbon Dating with Lasers

Infrared spectroscopy can detect trace gases and potentially provide an alternative carbon dating technique. Read More »

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Particles Sorted by Entropy

A proposed device improves on past designs and would sort small particles from large ones to a purity of over 99 percent, without any moving parts. Read More »

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Landmarks—Millikan Measures the Electron’s Charge

The Millikan oil drop experiment, published in final form in 1913, demonstrated that charge comes in discrete chunks and was a bridge between classical electromagnetism and modern quantum physics. Read More »

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Why Salt Clusters Form on Basement Walls

Salt crystallizing on walls or old artifacts forms in discrete bunches, rather than coating the surface, because of an unexpected feedback effect, according to experiments and simulations. Read More »

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Graphyne May Be Better than Graphene

Sheets of single-layer carbon with a variety of bonding patterns may have properties similar to the wonder material graphene, according to new computer simulations. Read More »

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Nuclei Emit Paired-up Neutrons

A neutron-rich nucleus can emit a neutron pair as a single unit as a product of nuclear decay. Read More »

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Cooling with a Warm Glow

Incoherent light from the sun or from an LED could cool a small object, according to two theory papers. Read More »

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Curling Physics Unraveled

Experiments and simulations lead to a new model for the curling of a thin strip, which could be useful for plant growth and micromechanics. Read More »

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Electron Spin Influences Nanotube Motion

The oscillations of a carbon nanotube can strongly affect the spin of an electron trapped on the tube, and the tube can also be affected by the spin, according to theory. Read More »

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Plugging Leaks in Seal Models

Gaskets and other seals can stop leaks even if the leak-preventing surfaces have just 42 percent of their area in contact at the microscopic scale, according to computer simulations. Read More »

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Measuring the Smallest Trickle

Researchers used a nanoscale tunnel in a silicon chip to measure a flow rate of a few picoliters per minute, which is smaller than any previous observation. Read More »

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First Frame from 3D Molecular Movie

In a step toward 3D movies, researchers have combined short laser pulses with electron diffraction methods to rapidly map the structure of a simple molecule in three dimensions. Read More »

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Nobel Prize—Tools for Quantum Tinkering

David Wineland and Serge Haroche, who studied photons and atoms in new ways, have won the 2012 Nobel Prize in Physics. Read More »

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Model of Tumbling Sand Castles

Two-dimensional simulations provide the first element-by-element accounting of the fluid and grain flow in an underwater avalanche. Read More »

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Fractal Structures Do More with Less

Calculations show that the weight of large support structures can be dramatically reduced if their design consists of patterns that are the same at large scales as at the tiniest scales. Read More »

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Subterranean Sound Waves from Projectile Impact

A projectile striking granular material generates a series of acoustic pulses that propagate down from the impact site. Read More »

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Tuning the Flow through a Soap Film

An electric field applied to a soap film induces fluid flow through the film and causes its thickness to increase—a phenomenon that could be useful in microfluidic systems. Read More »

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Atoms Organize Themselves

A theoretical model finds that atoms can organize themselves into a regularly spaced row when trapped between a pair of nanosized optical fibers. Read More »

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Ultrasound Signal Reveals Microstructure

A model for analyzing materials using ultrasound shows that the seemingly random fluctuations in the data may contain information about the microscopic structure. Read More »

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Windshield Cracks Hold Secrets of Impact

Firing projectiles at plates of glass or plastic shows that the number of resulting cracks is an indicator of the impact velocity and of material properties. Read More »

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Controlling Persistent Stress in Glass

Internal stress in a glass material is an important source of strength. Theory and experiments provide a new molecular-scale understanding of the process by which such stress develops. Read More »

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Designing Better Materials for LEDs

Researchers designed and synthesized an organic molecule whose electronic structure helps funnel energy into fluorescent emission. Read More »

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How to Learn a Language Quickly

Simulations show that you can learn the meaning of words rapidly if you assume that every object has only one word associated with it. Read More »

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Modeling the Not-So-Steady Heart

Mimicking the stable but not perfectly periodic beating of the heart and similar biological systems requires a new kind of mathematical model. Read More »

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Packing Heat to Store Energy

A theoretical analysis explores the efficiency limits of a method for storing electrical energy from a power plant by heating up a tank of fluid. Read More »

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Nobel Prize—Why Particles Have Mass

The 2013 Nobel Prize in Physics has been awarded to two of the theorists who formulated the Higgs mechanism, which gives mass to fundamental particles. Read More »

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Controlling Flow with a Roughness Knob

A new technique for controlling gas flow through microchannels involves adjusting the surface roughness of a thin film coating the walls. Read More »

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Dragging Nanoparticles Reveals Extra-Low Friction

Experiments demonstrate the breakdown of one of the basic laws of friction at the atomic scale, where more slippery conditions prevail. Read More »

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Bleaching Cleans Up Cell Images

The resolution in a biomedical imaging method can be improved by over-exposing, or “photobleaching,” some of the signal-producing molecules. Read More »

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Turbulence Can’t Stir Plankton

Turbulence causes certain swimming microorganisms to segregate into clusters, rather than spreading out evenly, according to experiments and simulations. Read More »

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Neutrinos Are Brighter at Night

The solar neutrino signal from a Japanese detector is slightly stronger at night because neutrinos traveling through the Earth behave differently than those that reach us directly from the Sun. Read More »

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Plant Gas Valve under the Microscope

Precision measurements of plant microstructures provide new insights into how they prevent gas bubbles from disrupting water flow. Read More »

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Light Nearly Stopped in a Waveguide

Calculations show how to excite extremely slow-moving light pulses in a nanosized waveguide. Read More »

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Cutting Losses for Surface Light

Light sent along metal surfaces—inside a future optical computer, for instance—may undergo reduced losses if the emitter is a thin slit or hole, experiments show. Read More »

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Electrons Not the Cause of Charged Grains

Experiments show that the buildup of charge in a collection of grains is not due to the transfer of electrons. Read More »

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Plasma Extremes Seen through Gas Bubble

Sound-stimulated gas bubbles in liquid become tiny plasmas and may provide a test bed for plasma physics theories. Read More »

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Nuclear Monitoring with Antineutrinos

A system to monitor a nuclear reactor for possible diversion of weapons material would use an antineutrino detector parked close to the facility. Read More »

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Curvy Photon Trajectories Could Be Detectable

Quantum mechanics permits particles to follow bizarre, looping and curving trajectories, usually with very low probability. But a calculation shows that in some cases, these paths can have significant and possibly measurable effects. Read More »

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Nobel Prize—Seeing Single Molecules

The Nobel Prize in Chemistry recognizes the development of super-resolved fluorescence microscopy. Much of this field can be traced back to the first detection of single molecules in solids. Read More »

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Fluid Jet Acquires Wings

A high-speed jet of certain fluids will form multiple wings, or archlike structures, when hitting a solid surface. Read More »

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Gamma-Ray Bursts Determine Potential Locations for Life

Powerful stellar explosions may have caused mass extinctions on Earth and could also have prevented life from appearing on other planets until 5 billion years ago—and then only in the outskirts of galaxies. Read More »

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Why Language Exceptions Remain the Rule

Interaction among speakers of a language may explain why frequently used verbs tend to remain irregular even as language evolves over generations. Read More »

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Laser Filaments Go through Phase Transition

A powerful laser beam separates into many smaller filaments that undergo a phase transition similar to fluid percolating through a porous material. Read More »

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Single-Frequency Mirror

A mirror made with metamaterials reflects at a selected angle and only responds to radiation of a specific frequency, while being transparent to other radiation. Read More »

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How to Stop a Nanosphere

Combining two trapping techniques reduces the motion of a levitated bead close to the point where quantum effects should become observable. Read More »

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Liquid Helium Brewed Locally

A new device for recycling the helium coolant in an MRI scanner or similar machine uses elevated pressure to dramatically increase the rate at which helium is liquefied. Read More »

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Pulses Give New Force to Probe Microscopy

A new technique in atomic force microscopy more accurately measures the electrostatic force between the probe and the surface. Read More »

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Energy Boost from Black Holes

Particles orbiting near a spinning black hole might collide and get ejected with much more energy than previous calculations showed. Read More »

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Understanding a Spreading Puddle

Classical fluid theory can't explain a puddle that spreads and then stops. A new theory solves the problem by incorporating intermolecular forces between the liquid and the solid underneath. Read More »

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Measuring the Forces in a Knot

Knots tied with stiff wire have a simplified geometry that reveals the relationship between the configuration of a knot and the forces within it. Read More »

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The Difference Between Round and Square Pipes

Calculations of the motion of particles carried by a fluid flowing through a pipe find a surprising effect of the pipe's shape. Read More »

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Stalling a Molecular Motor

Researchers used a viscous fluid to disrupt the operation of a molecular motor that transports material inside biological cells, giving insights into how it works.   Read More »

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Optical Funnel Traps Particles

Light-induced thermal forces could funnel a stream of proteins or viruses into the small target space of an x-ray laser for single-particle imaging. Read More »

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Bumblebees In Turbulence

A simulation of a flying bee shows that insects don’t expend extra energy to maintain lift in turbulent air flow. Read More »

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Eroding Grains Step by Step

Experiments with an eroding stream of grains reveals a step pattern that implies the erosion is governed by collisions rather than friction. Read More »

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Polariton Laser Upgrade

The emission from a polariton laser shows the coherence that is common to conventional lasers, a step toward using them as high-efficiency alternative light sources. Read More »

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Space Wave Gives Electrons a Shove

A new satellite mission has observed electron acceleration by electric field waves moving along the magnetic boundary between the Earth and the solar wind. Read More »

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Water Molecule Spreads Out When Caged

Water molecules confined in nanochannels exhibit tunneling behavior that smears out the positions of the hydrogen atoms into a pair of corrugated rings. Read More »

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Low Cost Polarized Positrons

A new technique requires much less energy to produce a beam of polarized positrons than previous techniques, making such beams potentially more widely available. Read More »

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Balls as 3D Gears

Spinning a few spheres among a large collection of them can lead to a predictable state where each sphere rotates in synch with the others. Read More »

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Detecting Photons With a Thermometer

A new technique detects as few as 200 microwave photons at a time by the heat they supply to an electrical circuit. Read More »

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Smoke Rings in Light

A newly discovered optical vortex forms a ring around many intense laser pulses but was never noticed before. Read More »

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Nobel Prize—Topological Phases of Matter

The 2016 Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to theoretical physicists whose work established the role of topology in understanding exotic forms of matter. Read More »

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Light Switched Off by Weaker Beam

An all-optical switch design uses an asymmetric waveguide that reduces the beam power requirements, which is essential for making such devices practical. Read More »

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Measuring Gravity with an Atom Chip

A new gravity-measuring device uses ultracold atoms generated by a centimeter-wide atom chip, which might lead to a shoebox-sized gadget. Read More »

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More Hints of Exotic Cosmic-Ray Origin

New Space Station data support a straightforward model of cosmic-ray propagation through the Galaxy but also add to previous signs of undiscovered cosmic-ray sources such as dark matter. Read More »

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Membrane Holes Can Shrink, Grow, or Stay Put

Pores in a polymer film do not change size over time if they have just the right diameter, according to experiments. Read More »

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Light Pushes and Pulls

Two forces coming from a light beam—one based on momentum transfer, the other on thermal effects—drive a tiny gold plate to move in opposite directions. Read More »

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Atomic Impersonator

Calculations show that a carefully engineered laser pulse can induce an atom to emit light as if it were a different atom. Read More »

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Making Rogue Waves with Wind and Water

Wind-generated waves in a ring-shaped water tank can spontaneously grow into single behemoth waves, mimicking a poorly understood ocean phenomenon.   Read More »

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Self-Spinning Grains Prove Granular Theory

Measurements of a two-dimensional “gas” made up of particles that spin when shaken bolsters a gas-like theory for granular materials. Read More »

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Interferometer for Lighter Atoms

A new atom interferometer works at less extreme temperatures and with lighter atoms than previous designs, opening up a new route to precision measurements of fundamental constants. Read More »

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Graphene Sliding on Graphene

Creating a bulge in a graphene sheet offers the first measurement of the shear forces between graphene layers, an essential factor in many graphene-based devices. Read More »

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Bacteria Form Waveguides

A laser beam sent through a suspension of marine bacteria pulls the organisms into the beam, which focuses the light. Read More »

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Vortices of Light on the Cheap

A simple laser setup has spontaneously produced nonuniform polarization patterns called vector vortices. Read More »

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Probing Cell Squishiness

A new atomic force microscopy technique can map the elastic properties of living cells. Read More »

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Field-Free Spin Patterns

A vortex-like magnetic spin structure inside a small disk of material is stable without an external magnetic field and might be useful for information storage or processing. Read More »

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Liquid String Vibrations

A liquid microchannel—the line where three soap films meet—vibrates like a string whose diameter shrinks as the shaking force increases.   Read More »

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Taking Temperature in 2D

Electron microscopy can produce nanometer-scale maps of the thermal expansion of 2D materials, which may be important for the development of nanoelectronic devices. Read More »

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Rinsing is Key to Removing Stains

Experiments show that rinsing clothes after washing can create imbalances in detergent concentration that pulls dirt out of the fabric. Read More »

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Neutrinos with a Single Energy

Neutrinos in a beam have a wide range of energies, but a new trick allowed researchers to isolate fixed-energy neutrinos, which can improve the precision in future experiments. Read More »

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Why Soft Solids Get Softer

Soft materials like gels and creams exhibit fatigue resulting from the stretching of their constituent fibers, according to experiments and simulations. Read More »

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Stitching Together a Knit Theory

A new model predicts how each stitch in a knitted fabric will respond to a stretching force. Read More »

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Nobel Prize—Lasers as Tools

The 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics goes to innovators in laser physics responsible for optical tweezers and high-intensity, ultrashort optical pulses. Read More »

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How to Measure Viscosity Inside Cells

A noninvasive method measures the viscosity in a cell nucleus by observing the movement and fusion of cellular components. Read More »

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Computing with Wi-Fi Waves

Experiments demonstrate that a room in a house or office building could act as an analog computer processing the microwaves used for Wi-Fi. Read More »

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A Cooler Computer

A future computer might reduce heat production by timing operations to match naturally occurring temperature swings within the device. Read More »

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Video—A Groovy Way to Harvest Dew

Dew condensing on an inclined, grooved surface rapidly forms large drops that roll quickly to the bottom for collection. Read More »

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Two Types of Cooling Require Different Designs

Keeping food cold is thermodynamically different from cooling a hot circuit element—a distinction that is accounted for in the design of a new thermoelectric cooler. Read More »

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Collection of Disks Mimics Earthquakes

A 2D array of disks under stress has replicated several statistical features of earthquakes, suggesting that this system is an accurate model of seismic phenomena. Read More »

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X-Ray Movie Reveals Origin of Metal Splashing

X-ray imaging of a manufacturing technique has captured the formation of molten metal projectiles that produce imperfections. Read More »

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Molecular Probe Uses a Polarization Flip

A new way of probing molecules with handedness involves a light pulse in which the polarization changes in the middle of a single wave cycle. Read More »

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Cooling on the Negative Side

A new cooling technique targets negative ions, which are typically resistant to cooling methods that work with atoms and positive ions. Read More »

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New Spaceship Sail Self-Centers

A technology for propelling spacecraft using a “sail” pushed by light has passed an initial test, with the prototype device staying centered in a laser beam. Read More »

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Emitting Photons Is One Way to Be Cool

A device described in a new proposal would cool an object by causing it to radiate extra heat. Read More »

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Sound-Driven Spin Waves

Sound waves generate large-amplitude spin waves that travel long distances in a magnetic film and that could be used to carry information. Read More »

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Worm Viscosity

The activity of sludge worms can alter the viscosity of a fluid, a finding that could help researchers understand active systems in cellular biology. Read More »

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Quantum Erasing with Phonons

Demonstrating quantum weirdness with vibration quanta called phonons shows that the particles can complement photons in quantum information technology. Read More »

Synopsis

Coin Flip Decides Material’s Fate

Stretching fibers until they fail reveals a correspondence between material strength and a 300-year-old math puzzle involving coin flips. Read More »

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Possible Flare from Black Hole Merger

Astronomers have detected a brightening of a distant quasar that coincided with a potential gravitational-wave signature of a pair of merging black holes. Read More »

Research News

Europeans Decide on Particle Strategy

The CERN Council approved a strategy update that prioritizes a 100-km circular collider, while still developing other options for future particle physics projects. Read More »

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A Jumpstart for Biochemistry

RNA can replicate in conditions that could be found on the early Earth, suggesting a possible step in the origin of life. Read More »

Research News

Powdering Up for Neutrinos

The search for neutrinos from past supernovae is getting an upgrade as Japan’s Super-Kamiokande experiment begins adding gadolinium powder to its giant water-based detector. Read More »

Synopsis

Limits on Purifying Quantum States

A new theoretical study identifies fundamental tradeoffs that limit the amount of noise reduction in quantum information systems. Read More »

Research News

Drawing a Line in the Sky: Astronomers Confront Satellite Threat

The astronomy community has released recommendations for mitigating the impact of thousands of internet-providing satellites that companies plan to launch in the coming years. Read More »

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Single-Molecule Cloak

A nanoparticle can be made partially transparent by placing a molecule in front of it, forming a system that might work as an optical switch. Read More »

Synopsis

Kaon Decays Reevaluated

A rigorous calculation of a matter-antimatter asymmetry in kaon decays has twice the precision of a previous calculation, removing tension that had existed between theory and experiment. Read More »

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Reproducing Space Plasma in the Lab

Electromagnetic fields rotate a plasma and produce conditions that resemble the region around a newly forming star. Read More »

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Nobel Prize: Facing the Reality of Black Holes

Three scientists were recognized for proving that gravitational collapse can lead to a black hole and for observing the supermassive black hole at the center of our Galaxy. Read More »

Synopsis

Looking for Dark Matter in Neutron Star Light

Radio observations of neutron stars demonstrate a way to search for axions through their expected conversion to electromagnetic waves in a star’s magnetic field. Read More »

Synopsis

Vetting Neutral Nitrogen Vacancies

New experiments characterize the excitation levels of electrically neutral nitrogen-vacancy centers, information needed for quantum information applications. Read More »

Synopsis

Magnetic Oscillations at a Metal Surface

Predicted 40 years ago, magnetic Friedel oscillations are finally observed in the layers beneath an iron surface. Read More »

Synopsis

Hair Styling with Physics

Experiments show that hair-like bundles form different shapes depending on the speed at which they are dried. Read More »

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Quantum Drones Take Flight

A small prototype of a drone-based quantum network has successfully relayed a quantum signal over a kilometer of free space. Read More »

Research News

Cosmic Ringtones in Pulsar Data?

A pulsar survey has detected a potential signal from low-frequency gravitational waves, which theorists are eager to explain. Read More »

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Force Scanning on a Shaky Membrane

A microscope technique that visualizes small objects on a vibrating membrane could deliver atomically resolved MRI scans. Read More »

Synopsis

Doubly Strange Nucleus Observed

Particle physicists have detected a short-lived nucleus containing two strange quarks, whose properties could provide new insights into the behavior of other nuclear particles. Read More »

Q&A

A 4D Fusion Puzzle

Duco Jansen explains how he, along with engineers at the ITER fusion experiment, will position 1000-ton parts shipped in from the four corners of the globe. Read More »

Synopsis

Wormholes Open for Transport

New theories of wormholes—postulated tunnels through spacetime—explore whether they could be traversable by humans. Read More »

Research News

Students Evaluate Online Teaching

A survey of physics students pinpoints strategies for improving the online teaching experience. Read More »

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Robot Foragers

Using a swarm of puck-shaped robots, researchers simulate interactions between biological organisms and their environment. Read More »

Synopsis

Rising Tides on Black Holes

New calculations show that spinning black holes—unlike nonspinning ones—can be tidally deformed by a nonsymmetric gravitational field. Read More »

Research News

Measuring the Magnet that Measures the Muon

To precisely measure the magnetic moment of the muon, physicists first needed to precisely measure the field produced by the 680-ton magnet that guides the muons. Read More »

Research News

A Rockin’ Time for Space Missions

2021 may be the year of the space rock, with scientists combing through new (and old) samples from the Moon and asteroids, while plans for a pick-and-collect mission to Mars get under way. Read More »

Research News

Coffee, Donuts, and Semiconductors

During the Semiconductors for Breakfast meeting, researchers woke up to talks on light-emitting nanorods and hairy cavities. Read More »

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Multi-Echo Imaging

With a one-pixel detector and a pulsed emitting device, researchers are able to produce a 3D image of a room from multiple echoes. Read More »

Synopsis

Keeping Time on Entropy’s Dime

An experiment with a nanoscale clock verifies that a clock’s entropy per tick increases as the clock is made more precise. Read More »

Synopsis

A Mott Meter

A new experimental method based on adsorption can indicate whether a material is a Mott insulator or a common insulator. Read More »

Synopsis

Uncertainty over First Stars

New analysis of nuclear reaction data finds holes in a theory about the first stars. Read More »

Research News

Spiral Arms in an Infant Galaxy

Astronomers have identified spiral arm features in a galaxy from the early Universe, suggesting that these arms can develop more rapidly than some theories predict. Read More »

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Customizing Thermal Emission

Theorists have shown that patterned surfaces can transform the emission from a hot object into a polarized, focused light beam. Read More »

News Feature

Improving the Human Machine

Robotics engineers turn their sights on making humans move more efficiently with the help of passive devices called exoskeletons. Read More »

Research News

Neutrinos Rising from the Floor

A neutrino background that could confound dark matter searches is now becoming an opportunity for probing new physics. Read More »

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Guiding Waves by Snipping Their Edges

A new waveguide design uses a series of apertures, or slits, to keep waves confined to a narrow path. Read More »

Synopsis

Testing a 150-year-old Hydrodynamics Prediction

A new experiment finds that a sphere with “fins” maintains its orientation in a flowing fluid, despite a 19th century prediction that it would spin. Read More »

Synopsis

Valley-Polarized Jets in Graphene

Studying the current that flows in bilayer graphene, researchers have isolated electron jets associated with specific valley states. Read More »

Q&A

Zapping Germs with LEDs

Michael Kneissl develops ultraviolet-light-emitting diodes that can neutralize bacteria and viruses in drinking water and on surfaces. Read More »

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How Glaciers Set a Table

Laboratory experiments reveal the melting process that generates a commonly seen ice feature called a glacier table. Read More »

Synopsis

Fine Structure Constant Goes Big in Spin Ices

Inside a quantum spin ice, the constant that defines electromagnetic interactions is 10 times larger than normal, according to calculations. Read More »

Research News

Pedestrian Physics Walks Away with Two Ig Nobels

This year’s Ig Nobel prize winners include two groups of physicists studying how humans avoid—and sometimes don’t avoid—collisions while walking. Read More »

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Nobel Prize: Complexity, from Atoms to Atmospheres

The 2021 Nobel Prize in Physics honors research on complex systems that undergo significant fluctuations, including glasses and Earth’s climate. Read More »

Synopsis

Reversing Flow in Charged Membranes

The process of osmosis is predicted—under certain conditions—to act in the opposite direction within charged membranes. Read More »

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Dark Matter Alternative Passes Big Test

A cosmological model that doesn’t require dark matter has overcome a major hurdle in matching observations from the cosmic microwave background. Read More »

Synopsis

Topology Inside a Liquid Crystal

The orientation boundaries in a liquid crystal can be characterized by a topological charge that always sums to one, no matter the shape of the container.   Read More »

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Reversible Fabric Heats and Cools

A new theory proposes a reversible fabric that could potentially keep a person warm when worn one way and cool when flipped inside out. Read More »

Q&A

Sun-Struck Scientist

Nicola Fox, who leads NASA’s heliophysics division, explains what it means to “touch the Sun.” Read More »

Research News

How to Survive Flying Too Close to the Sun

The Parker Solar Probe has flown through the Sun’s atmosphere—an unforgiving environment that poses a number of engineering challenges. Read More »

Synopsis

Pulsars Probe Early Universe

Astronomical observations of pulsars have provided new information about a possible phase transition in the early Universe. Read More »

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How to Find the Electron Starting Block

A new technique pinpoints, with picometer resolution, the location from which an emitted electron originates within a molecule. Read More »

Synopsis

Dark Energy Survey Hits a Triple

A large galaxy survey releases its three-year observations, providing key cosmological-parameter measurements that have double the precision of those previously released. Read More »

Research News

Antiproton Mirrors Proton

An antiproton experiment has shown to record precision that matter and antimatter particles have equal mass—confirming a basic tenet of the standard model of particle physics. Read More »

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Mineral Candidates for Planet Interiors

Computer simulations uncover new high-pressure minerals that may explain the origin of Earth’s water and of Uranus’ and Neptune’s magnetic fields. Read More »

Research News

Diagramming Quantum Weirdness

Physicists try to develop a realist interpretation of quantum mechanics by drawing diagrams that represent causal connections and observer-acquired information. Read More »

Synopsis

Chasing an Unpredictable Quarry

Researchers explore the effects of random motion in a pursuit problem in which hounds chase a hare. Read More »

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How Cotton Fibers Become Yarn

Experiments unravel the mysterious twisting process by which short fibers bind together into yarn. Read More »

Synopsis

Steering Toward a Quantum Advantage  

New experiments make clear how quantum effects—in the form of quantum correlations—can make an engine perform better than classical limits. Read More »

Research News

Optical Sensor for a Pancreas-on-a-Chip

An optical sensor consisting of gold nanorods can provide real-time data on insulin production in an on-chip device mimicking the pancreas. Read More »

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Magnetizing Diamonds with Light

By tuning the magnetic properties of a tiny levitating diamond, researchers control its orientation in a magnetic field. Read More »

Research News

Immune System’s Memory in an Evolving World

Researchers have identified strategies that our immune system uses to deal with highly evolving pathogens such as the flu virus and SARS-CoV-2. Read More »

Synopsis

High-Temperature Majoranas

A new proposal for generating Majorana zero modes—electronic states with potential for quantum computing—would not require sub-Kelvin temperatures. Read More »

Research News

Scientific Dimensions of the Ukraine Crisis

At the APS April Meeting, physicists discussed ways to support Ukrainian scientists while keeping contact with Russian scientists. Read More »

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Seismic Sensing Using Quantum Cryptography Network

An experiment demonstrates that quantum key distribution networks, which are part of highly secure cryptography schemes, can also detect and locate earthquakes. Read More »

Synopsis

Merged Black Hole on the Run

Analysis of the gravitational waves from a black hole merger suggests that the final black hole received a kick that will send it out of its galaxy. Read More »

Q&A

Physics Scratches a Philosopher’s Itch

Philosopher Elise Crull muses over interpretations of quantum physics, focusing on experiments that cast doubt on our classical notions of causality. Read More »

Synopsis

Nanostructures Control Ultraviolet Light Generation

By etching nanostructures into ultraviolet-generating materials, researchers show that they can manipulate the outgoing light in ways that aren’t otherwise possible.   Read More »

FOCUS

Hearing the Quantum Difference

At very low volume, a quantum optical microphone performs better than a classical device, and humans can hear the difference. Read More »

Research News

A Particle is Born: Making the Higgs Famous

Science communicators had a field day with the 2012 Higgs discovery, as it offered a chance to energize the public about fundamental physics research. Read More »

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Birds of a Feather Hunt Differently

Tracking of bird movements shows that the animals don’t spread outward like molecules in a gas, as ecologists often assume. Read More »

Synopsis

Distant Memories Entangled

On the road to a quantum internet, researchers demonstrate entanglement of two memory elements located 12.5 km apart in an urban environment. Read More »

Research News

Bending under Big G

Most measurements of Newton’s gravity constant use stationary masses, but a new experiment measures the constant with wiggling metal beams. Read More »

Synopsis

Addressing WWW Production in Particle Collisions

The ATLAS Collaboration has detected triple W-boson production—a rare event that could eventually offer signs of new physics.  Read More »

Synopsis

Shielding Qubits with Chemistry

The spin state of molecular qubits can be made more stable by changing the chemical environment in which the qubits sit. Read More »

FOCUS

Measuring the Similarity of Photons

A new optical device measures photon indistinguishability—an important property for future light-based quantum computers. Read More »

Synopsis

For the Love of Neutrinos

The CUPID-0 experiment has demonstrated a new detector technology that targets neutrinoless double beta decay. Read More »

Research News

Plant-Based Strategy for Harvesting Light

A new photodetector design borrows its light-gathering architecture from plants, offering a potential path to more efficient solar cells. Read More »

FOCUS

Nobel Prize: Quantum Entanglement Unveiled

The 2022 Nobel Prize in Physics honors research on the foundations of quantum mechanics, which opened up the quantum information frontier. Read More »

Synopsis

A Quantum Entanglement Assembly Line

A new experiment generates entanglement between many photons with a much higher probability than available methods, which could be a boon for quantum information applications. Read More »

Research News

A “Retro” Collider Design for a Higgs Factory

The Cool Copper Collider is a new proposal for a Higgs-producing linear collider that would be more compact than other collider designs. Read More »

Research News

Spacecraft Crash Changes Asteroid Orbit by 32 Minutes

NASA has confirmed that its DART spacecraft has altered the trajectory of the asteroid that it crashed into two weeks ago, demonstrating the potential of this tool for planetary defense. Read More »

Synopsis

Dwarf Galaxies Size Up Dark Matter Models

A proposed study of dwarf galaxies could give insight into whether dark matter particles interact with each other. Read More »

FOCUS

Dark Matter as an Intergalactic Heat Source

Spectra from quasars suggest that intergalactic gas may have been heated by a form of dark matter called dark photons. Read More »

Research News

A New Day Awaits Solar Neutrinos

Solar neutrinos are no longer the “stars” of neutrino research, but next-generation experiments characterizing these neutrinos may deepen our understanding of solar and neutrino physics. Read More »

Research News

Gaining Ground in Nuclear Fusion

Fusion researchers received an early holiday present with the confirmed measurement of a laser-induced fusion reaction that produced more energy than it consumed. Read More »

FOCUS

Why Wetting a Surface Can Increase Friction

Experiments suggest that hydrogen bonding explains why a wet surface can have nearly twice as much friction as a dry surface. Read More »

Synopsis

Targeting a Nuclear Halo

New modeling explains the relatively high fusion reaction probabilities of halo nuclei, which are composed of a dense core surrounded by a “satellite” of one or two nucleons. Read More »

Synopsis

Explaining Anomalies in Reactor Antineutrinos

A new analysis finds that discrepancies between reactor neutrino experiments and theory may be the result of errors in the analysis of electron data that form the basis of the neutrino predictions. Read More »

FOCUS

Sound Waves Mimic Gravity

A recently discovered acoustic effect allows a hot gas to simulate the gravity-induced convection within a star or giant planet. Read More »

Research News

A Laser-Based “Lightning Rod”

Experiments on a Swiss mountain demonstrate that a high-powered laser can influence the trajectory of lightning strikes—a step toward laser-based lightning protection. Read More »

Synopsis

Don’t Be Sold on Black Hole Imitators

The results of new simulations negate the argument that some objects thought to be black holes are instead hypothetical exotic systems called bosonic stars.   Read More »

FOCUS

Secret of Flow-Induced Electric Currents Revealed

Vibrations are the main drivers of a mysterious process in which a liquid flow generates an electric current in the solid below it. Read More »

Q&A

Turbulent Dance of Cloud Droplets

Rama Govindarajan models how turbulence influences the growth of droplets in clouds, information relevant to understanding the influence of these billowy masses on climate. Read More »

FOCUS

Beaming in a Spin Texture

Researchers use an optical vortex beam to create a stable pattern of electron spins in a thin layer of semiconductor material. Read More »

Research News

Publishing Science in a War Zone

The Ukrainian Journal of Physics has managed to keep publishing during the past year, offering an outlet for physicists in the war-torn country. Read More »

Synopsis

Quantum on a Microgram Scale

An experiment with an acoustic resonator demonstrates the quantum superposition of 1016 atoms—nearly matching the ability of matter interferometers to test quantumness on macroscopic scales. Read More »

Synopsis

Spinning Heat in Reverse

When spun fast enough, a cold object can transfer heat to a nearby hot object. Read More »

Synopsis

Stretching without Buckling

Materials that stretch on demand often bend in undesired directions, but a new theoretical model can produce stress-free designs that change shape without buckling. Read More »

FOCUS

Tweezers in Three Dimensions

A new kind of 3D optical lattice traps atoms using focused laser spots replicated in multiple planes and could eventually serve as a quantum computing platform. Read More »

Research News

Measuring Cosmic Expansion with a Lensed Supernova

Astronomers have demonstrated a new method for determining the Hubble constant that involves measuring the time delay between multiple images of a lensed supernova. Read More »

Synopsis

Bond Density Not Strength Controls Polymer Stickiness

Experiments show that the sticky behavior of so-called associative polymers is controlled by the density of bonding structures, contradicting theoretical predictions. Read More »

FOCUS

Active Matter Turns Pinwheels

The chaotic motion in a fluid of microscopic, actively moving rods can be harnessed to drive the rotation of a small propeller-like object. Read More »

Research News

Phonons on the Splitting Block

Using a “bad” acoustic mirror, physicists demonstrate a phonon beam splitter, a device that could one day be used to make phonon-based quantum logic gates. Read More »

Synopsis

Clock Comparison Limits Dark Matter

A search for oscillations in the frequencies of optical clocks has come up empty, implying new bounds on ultralight dark matter particles. Read More »

FOCUS

Probe of the Cosmos Using Lensed Gravitational Waves

The path of a gravitational wave passing near a galaxy can be bent, producing multiple signals that could help next-generation detectors measure the expansion of the Universe. Read More »

Research News

Getting a Heads-Up on Landslides from Space

A new method based on satellite data and network models can identify hillsides that may be at risk of catastrophic landslides. Read More »

Synopsis

Opening a Liquid Route to Fusion

A laser experiment provides a proof-of-principle test for an alternative fusion concept that uses targets made with liquid fuel rather than conventional frozen fuel. Read More »

Research News

Dark Star Hypothesis Sees the Light of Day

Recent data from the JWST space observatory has identified several objects that are consistent with dark matter powered stars. Read More »

Synopsis

AI Learns to Play with a Slinky

A new artificial intelligence algorithm can model the behavior of a set of objects, such as helical springs or pendulums, using a method that can extrapolate to objects that the algorithm hasn’t previously analyzed. Read More »

FOCUS

Measuring Thermal Migration

The slow drift of microscale features on a surface reveals the force driving atoms from the hot to the cold side of the material. Read More »

Research News

Breakthrough Prize for Quantum Field Theorists

The 2024 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics goes to John Cardy and Alexander Zamolodchikov for their work in applying field theory to diverse problems. Read More »

Synopsis

Quantum Ratchet Made Using an Optical Lattice

Researchers have turned an optical lattice into a ratchet that moves atoms from one site to the next.  Read More »

Synopsis

Making a Beamline for Deep UV Spectroscopy

By using a pair of offset beams, researchers are able to generate femtosecond UV pulses that can be aimed directly into a target as a spectroscopic probe. Read More »

Special Feature

Golden Ticket to Stockholm

The envelopes for this year’s Nobel Prize winners are already sealed, but a survey of physicists offers ideas on future discoveries that are shoo-ins for Nobel recognition. Read More »

FOCUS

Nobel Prize: Flashes of Light Catch Electrons in the Act

The 2023 Nobel Prize in Physics honors the field of attosecond physics, which offers a nonblurry view of the fast-moving electrons inside atoms and molecules. Read More »

Research News

Unexpected Noise in Next-Generation Mirror Material

A crystalline reflective coating being considered for future gravitational-wave detectors exhibits peculiar noise features at cryogenic temperatures. Read More »

FOCUS

Five Protons Spew Out of Extreme Nucleus

A highly unstable nucleus that decays by emitting five protons has been observed, offering an extreme case for testing nuclear models. Read More »

Synopsis

Tension for a Hubble-Tension Solution

An early-Universe spike in dark energy could resolve a disagreement between two cosmic-expansion-rate measurements, but such a spike may conflict with observations of quasar spectra. Read More »

Research News

Electrons Lead Their Lattice by the Nose

Experiments with an unconventional superconductor show that a change in the properties of the material’s electrons can, unexpectedly, cause the material to become dramatically less stiff. Read More »

Synopsis

Control Knob Found for Viscous Fingers

The onset time for “viscous fingering”—an instability that can occur at a gas–liquid boundary—depends on the compressibility of the gas, offering a way to control the behavior. Read More »

FOCUS

Why It’s Hard to Break Plastics

The crack resistance of polymer materials is explained by a new model that incorporates a network of stretchable polymer chains. Read More »

News Feature

Repeated Particle Measurements Disagree with Theory—What Now?

The experimental value of the muon’s magnetic moment disagrees with theoretical predictions, but some of those predictions also disagree with each other—a problem theorists are working to resolve. Read More »

FOCUS

Particles Flutter as They Fall

Experiments with small falling particles show that their orientations oscillate—which may help explain the settling of volcanic ash and the formation of snow.  Read More »

Research News

A Moving Target for Quantum Advantage

Researchers have used quantum computers to solve difficult physics problems. But claims of a quantum “advantage” must wait as ever-improving algorithms boost the performance of classical computers. Read More »

Research News

Inertial-Confinement Fusion without Lasers

The recent breakthroughs in laser-based fusion have given a boost to a number of start-up companies—one of which has plans to replace the lasers with a high-speed projectile. Read More »

Synopsis

Material Hums a New Topological Tune

The sound waves in a fabricated material exhibit topological features in one, two, and three dimensions—demonstrating an acoustic version of a higher-order nodal-line semimetal. Read More »

Synopsis

A Sunny Path to Green Hydrogen

A theoretical study of metal oxides identifies potential candidate materials for generating hydrogen fuel from water and sunlight. Read More »

FOCUS

Voltage Control over Magnons

Researchers have demonstrated that magnetic spin waves called magnons can be controlled by voltage and thus could operate more efficiently as information carriers in future devices. Read More »