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materials science

Illustration of gold unicorn
optical physics

Alchemy Arrives in a Burst of Light

September 30, 2020

Researchers have shown how to effectively transform one material into another using a finely shaped laser pulse.

materials science

The Shape-Shifting Squeeze Coolers

August 24, 2020

Push or crush a new class of materials, and they’ll undergo record-breaking temperature changes.

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.”

Photo of a complicated knot.
Abstractions blog

Color-Changing Material Unites the Math and Physics of Knots

February 10, 2020

Mathematicians have studied knots for centuries, but a new material is showing why some knots are better than others.

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.

insights puzzle

Solution: Magic Moiré in Twisted Graphene

July 26, 2019

Answering these simple questions can give you an intuitive feel for the geometric properties behind the emergence of superconductivity in rotated graphene sheets.

Abstractions blog

How Swarming Insects Act Like Fluids

July 10, 2019

By studying a swarm of flying midges as though it were a fluid, physicists have learned how collective behaviors might stabilize a group against environmental disruptions.

insights puzzle

When Magic Is Seen in Twisted Graphene, That’s a Moiré

June 20, 2019

What do moiré patterns seen in optics, art, photography and color printing have to do with superconducting layers of graphene?