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Featured in Physics
Morphology of Rain Water Channeling in Systematically Varied Model Sandy Soils
Yuli Wei, Cesare M. Cejas, Rémi Barrois, Rémi Dreyfus, and Douglas J. Durian
Phys. Rev. Applied 2, 044004 (2014) – Published 15 October 2014

Uniform rain does not penetrate homogeneously into dry sandy soil, but rather forms narrow channels that can leave much of the granular bed dry. The authors study this process in detail for both hydrophilic and hydrophobic soils, identify distinct dynamical behaviors, and demonstrate mitigation strategies that effectively improve fluid infiltration and retention. This study provides guidance for control over channeling and wetting under natural as well as artificial conditions.

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Ultrafast Nonlinear Response of Gold Gyroid Three-Dimensional Metamaterials
Petros Farah, Angela Demetriadou, Stefano Salvatore, Silvia Vignolini, Morgan Stefik, Ulrich Wiesner, Ortwin Hess, Ullrich Steiner, Ventsislav K. Valev, and Jeremy J. Baumberg
Phys. Rev. Applied 2, 044002 (2014) – Published 7 October 2014

The authors study the optical properties of self-organized three-dimensional metamaterials, and explain their observations with a simple analytical model. These systems exhibit three outstanding features: a tunable plasmonic response orders of magnitude stronger than previously reported; operation in the visible, rather than infrared or microwave, spectrum; and fabrication via self-assembly, rather than a complicated multistage process such as lithography. Thus such metamaterials potentially provide a practical and attractive avenue for future applications.

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Laser-Cooling-Assisted Mass Spectrometry
Christian Schneider, Steven J. Schowalter, Kuang Chen, Scott T. Sullivan, and Eric R. Hudson
Phys. Rev. Applied 2, 034013 (2014) – Published 30 September 2014

Mass spectrometry is a key analytical tool in many disciplines, as it provides accurate identification of unknown chemical components in complex mixtures. The authors demonstrate that using laser cooling significantly increases the phase-space density of this assay, improving both mass resolution and detection limits by better than an order of magnitude.

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Featured in Physics Editors' Suggestion
Control of Femtosecond Laser Ablation of Thin Films from a Dielectric Surface by Nonlinear Interaction with the Substrate
Laurent Mercadier, David M. Rayner, and Paul B. Corkum
Phys. Rev. Applied 2, 034001 (2014) – Published 2 September 2014

Laser ablation is potentially important for nanofabrication but can suffer from poor reproducibility, as it is highly sensitive to even small fluctuations in the laser energy. The authors exploit nonlinear effects in the propagation of high-intensity light through transparent media to control ablation of ultrathin (8 nm) polymer films, achieving subwavelength resolution and a tolerance to energy fluctuations that allows high reproducibility. They also show conversely how thin-film laser ablation can be used to profile laser beams undergoing self-focusing and filamentation.

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Controlled Generation of Single Microbubble at Solid Surfaces by a Nanosecond Pressure Pulse
Taehwa Lee, Hyoung Won Baac, Jong G. Ok, Hong Seok Youn, and L. Jay Guo
Phys. Rev. Applied 2, 024007 (2014) – Published 22 August 2014

Optical excitation of a carbon nanotube composite is used to produce a high-amplitude, nanosecond-long pressure pulse, thus generating a single microbubble with high spatial accuracy. The resulting tightly focused pressure gradient yields a deterministic nucleation process that is independent of surface heterogeneities that typically induce nucleation. This allows for applications such as selective surface modification for functional materials as well as improved “histotripsy”: cell-level microsurgery for cancer or tissue dysplasias.

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Featured in Physics Editors' Suggestion
Single-Shot MeV Transmission Electron Microscopy with Picosecond Temporal Resolution
R. K. Li and P. Musumeci
Phys. Rev. Applied 2, 024003 (2014) – Published 5 August 2014

A radical change to the electron source could improve by orders of magnitude the combined spatiotemporal resolution of ultrafast electron microscopy. The authors design and evaluate an instrument featuring a high-brightness MeV electron beam from an rf photoinjector. Being able to take snapshots at 1000 times the formerly highest rate would enable researchers to study nanoscale dynamical processes in real time.

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Featured in Physics 2 citations
Single Quantum Dot as an Optical Thermometer for Millikelvin Temperatures
Florian Haupt, Atac Imamoglu, and Martin Kroner
Phys. Rev. Applied 2, 024001 (2014) – Published 1 August 2014

A single self-assembled quantum dot, with its atom-like electrical and optical properties, is an ideal probe of the rich physics of natural fermionic systems. An important prerequisite for many experiments is the precise knowledge of the temperature of an electron reservoir. By optically probing a Zeeman-split electronic state of a quantum dot coupled to a thermal electron reservoir, the temperature of this reservoir can be measured down to the millikelvin range.

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Featured in Physics 2 citations
Optical Thermometry of an Electron Reservoir Coupled to a Single Quantum Dot in the Millikelvin Range
F. Seilmeier, M. Hauck, E. Schubert, G. J. Schinner, S. E. Beavan, and A. Högele
Phys. Rev. Applied 2, 024002 (2014) – Published 1 August 2014

Quantum dots embedded in a semiconductor can provide sensitive probes of their environment. This work presents a means to use optical measurements of a quantum dot to determine the temperature of the nearby electron reservoir–a property that is difficult to measure in the millikelvin temperature regime, yet key to understanding the many-body interactions in these systems.

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Chiral Metafoils for Terahertz Broadband High-Contrast Flexible Circular Polarizers
Jianfeng Wu, Binghao Ng, Haidong Liang, Mark B. H. Breese, Minghui Hong, Stefan A. Maier, Herbert O. Moser, and Ortwin Hess
Phys. Rev. Applied 2, 014005 (2014) – Published 18 July 2014

In recent years metamaterials have afforded high optical anisotropy, beyond the levels available using naturally occurring materials—but with limited spectral bandwidth. The authors have produced flexible gold “metafoils” of subwavelength thickness that sort circularly polarized light with very high contrast, over a broad frequency range that could be extended to include the important infrared “fingerprint” region used routinely for molecular spectroscopy. These metafoils can be made using established hot-embossing and nanoimprinting processes for cost-effective mass manufacture.

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Featured in Physics Editors' Suggestion Letter
Phononic-Crystal-Based Acoustic Sieve for Tunable Manipulations of Particles by a Highly Localized Radiation Force
Fei Li, Feiyan Cai, Zhengyou Liu, Long Meng, Ming Qian, Chen Wang, Qian Cheng, Menglu Qian, Xin Liu, Junru Wu, Jiangyu Li, and Hairong Zheng
Phys. Rev. Applied 1, 051001 (2014) – Published 11 June 2014

The highly localized, periodic force induced by resonant transmission of acoustic waves via a phononic crystal is capable of trapping, aligning, sorting, and transferring large numbers of particles according to size or density, all in a tunable and scalable manner. This approach exploits a flexural mode unavailable to conventional optical techniques, using an engineered acoustic field to raise power transmission from the 10% predicted by classical theory to 60%. This advance has implications for cell sorting, additive materials fabrication, and targeted drug delivery.

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Featured in Physics Editors' Suggestion
Electrostatic Theory of Metal Whiskers
V. G. Karpov
Phys. Rev. Applied 1, 044001 (2014) – Published 15 May 2014

It has been known for more than 60 years that fine metal whiskers can spontaneously form at the surface of a stressed metal, and that these whiskers produce random failures in computer servers, satellites, and electronic storage devices. A new study attributes the whiskers to minute electric field variations at metal surfaces, leading to the first predictive theory for whisker growth and length distribution.

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Editors' Suggestion 1 citation
Intrinsic Noise from Neighboring Bases in the DNA Transverse Tunneling Current
Jose R. Alvarez, Dmitry Skachkov, Steven E. Massey, Junqiang Lu, Alan Kalitsov, and Julian P. Velev
Phys. Rev. Applied 1, 034001 (2014) – Published 15 April 2014

The measurement of transverse currents through nanopores holds great promise for rapid DNA sequencing, however, the technology is error prone. In this work, a new procedure is developed to overcome the intrinsic structural noise by making use of correlations of currents between neighboring bases.

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Editors' Suggestion 1 citation
Dynamic and Static Manifestation of Molecular Absorption in Thin Films Probed by a Microcantilever
Eric Finot, Arnaud Fabre, Ali Passian, and Thomas Thundat
Phys. Rev. Applied 1, 024001 (2014) – Published 27 March 2014

Simultaneous measurements of frequency shift and deformation of microcantilevers help in discerning between absorption-induced changes in swelling and elastic moduli of very thin films.

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Editors' Suggestion 2 citations
Extending the Concept of Defect Chemistry from Semiconductor Physics to Electrochemistry
Mira Todorova and Jörg Neugebauer
Phys. Rev. Applied 1, 014001 (2014) – Published 27 February 2014

Despite similarities between their fundamental building blocks—charged defects/ions—theoretical and modeling concepts in semiconductor defect chemistry and electrochemistry have little overlap. Theorists present a unified approach based on a fully grand-canonical description of both ions and electrons, connecting the respective concepts and providing surprising new insights into apparently “old” problems.

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Three-Dimensional Holographic Refractive-Index Measurement of Continuously Flowing Cells in a Microfluidic Channel
Yongjin Sung, Niyom Lue, Bashar Hamza, Joseph Martel, Daniel Irimia, Ramachandra R. Dasari, Wonshik Choi, Zahid Yaqoob, and Peter So
Phys. Rev. Applied 1, 014002 (2014) – Published 27 February 2014

A method for holographic three-dimensional imaging of biological samples continuously flowing in a microfluidic channel promises high-throughput single-cell characterization using 3D refractive index maps, without relying on any contrast agents. This method could be useful for discriminating pathological from healthy cells, identifying structural effects of drug treatments, and developing advanced cell sorting techniques.

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Featured in Physics 1 citation
How the Ear Tunes In to Sounds: A Physics Approach
Florian Gomez, Victor Saase, Nikolaus Buchheim, and Ruedi Stoop
Phys. Rev. Applied 1, 014003 (2014) – Published 27 February 2014

Listening is commonly seen as a passive process, by which the brain decodes signals from the ear. In fact, specialists have known for many years that the identification of pitch relies also on signals sent from the brain back to the cochlea, in the ear. Neurophysicists now show that this complex feedback process can be accurately modeled and compared with biological data.

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Featured in Physics 3 citations
Velocity Profile inside Piezoacoustic Inkjet Droplets in Flight: Comparison between Experiment and Numerical Simulation
Arjan van der Bos, Mark-Jan van der Meulen, Theo Driessen, Marc van den Berg, Hans Reinten, Herman Wijshoff, Michel Versluis, and Detlef Lohse
Phys. Rev. Applied 1, 014004 (2014) – Published 27 February 2014

Inkjet printers fire droplets that travel a thousand times their own radius every second. The dynamics of this process involve a delicate interplay between surface tension and hydrodynamics that have now been experimentally measured in unprecedented detail. Experimental data are compared with analytic predictions to reveal internal velocities within a droplet that likewise vary by many meters per second within a droplet only tens of microns across.

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