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condensed matter physics

Image of LIGO’s mirror.
Abstractions blog

To Make the Perfect Mirror, Physicists Confront the Mystery of Glass

April 2, 2020

Sometimes a mirror that reflects 99.9999% of light isn’t good enough.

A close-up of fossilized amber.
materials science

Ideal Glass Would Explain Why Glass Exists at All

March 11, 2020

Glass is anything that’s rigid like a crystal, yet made of disordered molecules like a liquid. To understand why it exists, researchers are attempting to create the perfect, still-hypothetical “ideal glass.”

Q&A

The Man Making Rwanda Into a Hub for Physics

March 3, 2020

As the founding director of a new institute for fundamental research in Rwanda, the physicist Omololu Akin-Ojo hopes to stem the brain drain of Africa’s brightest minds.

Six looping videos of different types of snowflakes and snow crystals growing.
crystals

Toward a Grand Unified Theory of Snowflakes

December 19, 2019

Snow crystals come in two main types. The “pope” of snowflake physics has a new theory that explains why.

A view of nanoparticles in a crystalline pattern.
Abstractions blog

Strange Metal-like Bonds Discovered in Customized Crystals

September 3, 2019

While studying materials made from DNA-coated nanoparticles, researchers found a new form of this matter: lattices in which smaller particles roam like electrons in metallic bonds.

Art for "A Potent Explanation Emerges for Graphene’s Magic Angle"
Abstractions blog

What’s the Magic Behind Graphene’s ‘Magic’ Angle?

May 28, 2019

A new theoretical model may help explain the shocking onset of superconductivity in stacked, twisted carbon sheets.

Art for "Black, Hot Ice, Newly Seen in the Lab, May Be Nature's Commonest Form of Water"
chemistry

Black, Hot Ice May Be Nature’s Most Common Form of Water

May 8, 2019

A new experiment confirms the existence of “superionic ice,” a bizarre form of water that might comprise the bulk of giant icy planets throughout the universe.

Art for "Universal Pattern Explains Why Materials Conduct"
mathematical physics

Universal Pattern Explains Why Materials Conduct

May 6, 2019

Mathematicians have found that materials conduct electricity when electrons follow a universal mathematical pattern.

Art for "With a Simple Twist, a ‘Magic’ Material Has Quietly Become the Biggest Thing in Physics"
quantum physics

With a Simple Twist, a ‘Magic’ Material Is Now the Big Thing in Physics

April 30, 2019

The stunning emergence of a new type of superconductivity with the mere twist of a carbon sheet has left physicists giddy, and its discoverer nearly overwhelmed.