Outstanding Paper Awards 2020
Here are 12 newly selected papers published in Frontiers of Physics during the year 2018-2019, covering the research areas of atomic, molecular and optical physics, condensed matter and material Physics, particle and nuclear Physics, and astrophysics. These papers are awarded the 2020 Outstanding Papers. Thanks for all authors and reviewers!
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  • Review article
    Mengyun He, Huimin Sun, Qing Lin He
    Frontiers of Physics, 2019, 14(4): 43401.

    Topological insulators are emergent states of quantum matter that are gapped in the bulk with timereversal symmetry-preserved gapless edge/surface states, adiabatically distinct from conventional materials. By proximity to various magnets and superconductors, topological insulators show novel physics at the interfaces, which give rise to two new areas named topological spintronics and topological quantum computation. Effects in the former such as the spin torques, spin-charge conversion, topological antiferromagnetic spintronics, and skyrmions realized in topological systems will be addressed. In the latter, a superconducting pairing gap leads to a state that supports Majorana fermions states, which may provide a new path for realizing topological quantum computation. Various signatures of Majorana zero modes/edge mode in topological superconductors will be discussed. The review ends by outlooks and potential applications of topological insulators. Topological superconductors that are fabricated using topological insulators with superconductors have a full pairing gap in the bulk and gapless surface states consisting of Majorana fermions. The theory of topological superconductors is reviewed, in close analogy to the theory of topological insulators.

    Bing Zhang
    Frontiers of Physics, 2019, 14(6): 64402.

    The first gravitational wave (GW) – gamma-ray burst (GRB) association, GW170817/GRB 170817A, had an offset in time, with the GRB trigger time delayed by ~1.7 s with respect to the merger time of the GW signal. We generally discuss the astrophysical origin of the delay time, Δt, of GW-GRB associations within the context of compact binary coalescence (CBC) – short GRB (sGRB) associations and GW burst – long GRB (lGRB) associations. In general, the delay time should include three terms, the time to launch a clean (relativistic) jet, Δtjet; the time for the jet to break out from the surrounding medium, Δtbo; and the time for the jet to reach the energy dissipation and GRB emission site, ΔtGRB. For CBC-sGRB associations, Δtjet and Δtbo are correlated, and the final delay can be from 10 ms to a few seconds. For GWB-lGRB associations, Δtjet and Δtbo are independent. The latter is at least ~10 s, so that Δt of these associations is at least this long. For certain jet launching mechanisms of lGRBs, Δt can be minutes or even hours long due to the extended engine waiting time to launch a jet. We discuss the cases of GW170817/GRB 170817A and GW150914/GW150914-GBM within this theoretical framework and suggest that the delay times of future GW/GRB associations will shed light into the jet launching mechanisms of GRBs.

    Shi-Qiang Luo, Ji-Fei Wang, Bin Yang, Yong-Bo Yuan
    Frontiers of Physics, 2019, 14(5): 53401.

    Though three-dimensional (3D) organic–inorganic halide perovskites (OIHP) is very promising for low cost and distributed PV generation, the stability issue of 3D OIHP is still a problem for its commercialization. Two-dimensional (2D) perovskites, protected by periodic organic ligands, is promising due to its excellent optoelectronic property and superior stability. However, 2D perovskite is anisotropic in its crystal structure and optoelectronic properties, and the resulted film is often a mixture of different phase. So, methods to manipulate 2D perovskite crystal orientation and its phase separation are vital. In this review, the major advances on the composition engineering, crystal orientation, phase separation, and interfacial capping are summarized. Besides, efforts on understanding the formation process of 2D perovskite crystal are also discussed, which is important for making full use of 2D perovskite in functional optoelectronic devices.

  • Zhi-Qiang Wang, Tie-Yu Lü, Hui-Qiong Wang, Yuan Ping Feng, Jin-Cheng Zheng
    Frontiers of Physics, 2019, 14(3): 33403.

    Since two-dimensional boron sheet (borophene) synthesized on Ag substrates in 2015, research on borophene has grown fast in the fields of condensed matter physics, chemistry, material science, and nanotechnology. Due to the unique physical and chemical properties, borophene has various potential applications. In this review, we summarize the progress on borophene with a particular emphasis on the recent advances. First, we introduce the phases of borophene by experimental synthesis and theoretical predictions. Then, the physical and chemical properties, such as mechanical, thermal, electronic, optical and superconducting properties are summarized. We also discuss in detail the utilization of the borophene for wide ranges of potential application among the alkali metal ion batteries, Li-S batteries, hydrogen storage, supercapacitor, sensor and catalytic in hydrogen evolution, oxygen reduction, oxygen evolution, and CO2 electroreduction reaction. Finally, the challenges and outlooks in this promising field are featured on the basis of its current development.

    Rong Wang, Xin-Gang Ren, Ze Yan, Li-Jun Jiang, Wei E. I. Sha, Guang-Cun Shan
    Frontiers of Physics, 2019, 14(1): 13603.

    Graphene is an ideal 2D material system bridging electronic and photonic devices. It also breaks the fundamental speed and size limits by electronics and photonics, respectively. Graphene offers multiple functions of signal transmission, emission, modulation, and detection in a broad band, high speed, compact size, and low loss. Here, we have a brief view of graphene based functional devices at microwave, terahertz, and optical frequencies. Their fundamental physics and computational models were discussed as well.

    Feng-Shou Zhang, Cheng Li, Long Zhu, Peiwei Wen
    Frontiers of Physics, 2018, 13(6): 132113.

    The main progresses in the multinucleon transfer reactions at energies close to the Coulomb barrier are reviewed. After a short presentation of the experimental progress and theoretical progress, the predicted production cross sections for unknown neutron-rich heavy nuclei and the trans-uranium nuclei are presented.

    Longjuan Kong, Kehui Wu, Lan Chen
    Frontiers of Physics, 2018, 13(3): 138105.

    Boron is the neighbor of carbon on the periodic table and exhibits unusual physical characteristics derived from electron-deficient, highly delocalized covalent bonds. As the nearest neighbor of carbon, boron is in many ways similar to carbon, such as having a short covalent radius and the flexibility to adopt sp2 hybridization. Hence, boron could be capable of forming monolayer structural analogues of graphene. Although many theoretical papers have reported finding two-dimensional allotropes of boron, there had been no experimental evidence for such atom-thin boron nanostructures until 2016. Recently, the successful synthesis of single-layer boron (referred to as borophene) on the Ag(111) substrate opens the era of boron nanostructures. In this brief review, we will discuss the progress that has been made on borophene in terms of synthetic techniques, characterizations and the atomic models. However, borophene is just in infancy; more efforts are expected to be made in future on the controlled synthesis of quality samples and tailoring its physical properties.

    Ying-Yue Yang, Wen-Yang Sun, Wei-Nan Shi, Fei Ming, Dong Wang, Liu Ye
    Frontiers of Physics, 2019, 14(3): 31601.

    The dynamics of measurement’s uncertainty via entropy for a one-dimensional Heisenberg XY Z mode is examined in the presence of an inhomogeneous magnetic field and Dzyaloshinskii–Moriya (DM) interaction. It shows that the uncertainty of interest is intensively in connection with the filed’s temperature, the direction-oriented coupling strengths and the magnetic field. It turns out that the stronger coupling strengths and the smaller magnetic field would induce the smaller measurement’s uncertainty of interest within the current spin model. Interestingly, we reveal that the evolution of the uncertainty exhibits quite different dynamical behaviors in antiferromagnetic (Ji>0) and ferromagnetic (Ji<0) frames. Besides, an analytical solution related to the systematic entanglement (i.e., concurrence) is also derived in such a scenario. Furthermore, it is found that the DM-interaction is desirably working to diminish the magnitude of the measurement’s uncertainty in the region of high-temperature. Finally, we remarkably offer a resultful strategy to govern the entropy-based uncertainty through utilizing quantum weak measurements, being of fundamentally importance to quantum measurement estimation in the context of solid-state-based quantum information processing and computation.

    Mosayeb Naseri, Shiru Lin, Jaafar Jalilian, Jinxing Gu, Zhongfang Chen
    Frontiers of Physics, 2018, 13(3): 138102.

    By means of density functional theory computations, we predicted two novel two-dimensional (2D) nanomaterials, namely P2X (X=C, Si) monolayers with pentagonal configurations. Their structures, stabilities, intrinsic electronic, and optical properties as well as the effect of external strain to the electronic properties have been systematically examined. Our computations showed that these P2C and P2Si monolayers have rather high thermodynamic, kinetic, and thermal stabilities, and are indirect semiconductors with wide bandgaps (2.76 eV and 2.69 eV, respectively) which can be tuned by an external strain. These monolayers exhibit high absorptions in the UV region, but behave as almost transparent layers for visible light in the electromagnetic spectrum. Their high stabilities and exceptional electronic and optical properties suggest them as promising candidates for future applications in UV-light shielding and antireflection layers in solar cells.

    Ce Wang, Hui Zhai
    Frontiers of Physics, 2018, 13(5): 130507.

    In this work, we apply a principal component analysis (PCA) method with a kernel trick to study the classification of phases and phase transitions in classical XY models of frustrated lattices. Compared to our previous work with the linear PCA method, the kernel PCA can capture nonlinear functions. In this case, the Z2 chiral order of the classical spins in these lattices is indeed a nonlinear function of the input spin configurations. In addition to the principal component revealed by the linear PCA, the kernel PCA can find two more principal components using the data generated by Monte Carlo simulation for various temperatures as the input. One of them is related to the strength of the U(1) order parameter, and the other directly manifests the chiral order parameter that characterizes the Z2 symmetry breaking. For a temperature-resolved study, the temperature dependence of the principal eigenvalue associated with the Z2 symmetry breaking clearly shows second-order phase transition behavior.

    Rong-Xuan Zhong, Zhao-Pin Chen, Chun-Qing Huang, Zhi-Huan Luo, Hai-Shu Tan, Boris A. Malomed, Yong-Yao Li
    Frontiers of Physics, 2018, 13(4): 130311.

    We develop a method for creating two- and one-dimensional (2D and 1D) self-trapped modes in binary spin-orbit-coupled Bose–Einstein condensates with the contact repulsive interaction, whose local strength grows sufficiently rapidly from the center to the periphery. In particular, an exact semi-vortex (SV) solution is found for the anti-Gaussian radial modulation profile. The exact modes are included in the numerically produced family of SV solitons. Other families, in the form of mixed modes (MMs), as well as excited states of SVs and MMs, are also produced. Although the excited states are unstable in all previously studied models, they are partially stable in the present one. In the 1D version of the system, exact solutions for the counterpart of SVs, namely, semi-dipole solitons, are also found. Families of semi-dipoles, as well as the 1D version of MMs, are produced numerically.

    Ya-Hui Mao, Li-Fu Zhang, Hui-Li Wang, Huan Shan, Xiao-Fang Zhai, Zhen-Peng Hu, Ai-Di Zhao, Bing Wang
    Frontiers of Physics, 2018, 13(3): 138106.

    The synthesis of antimonene, which is a promising group-V 2D material for both fundamental studies and technological applications, remains highly challenging. Thus far, it has been synthesized only by exfoliation or growth on a few substrates. In this study, we show that thin layers of antimonene can be grown on Ag(111) by molecular beam epitaxy. High-resolution scanning tunneling microscopy combined with theoretical calculations revealed that the submonolayer Sb deposited on a Ag(111) surface forms a layer of AgSb2 surface alloy upon annealing. Further deposition of Sb on the AgSb2 surface alloy causes an epitaxial layer of Sb to form, which is identified as antimonene with a buckled honeycomb structure. More interestingly, the lattice constant of the epitaxial antimonene (5 Å) is much larger than that of freestanding antimonene, indicating a high tensile strain of more than 20%. This kind of large strain is expected to make the antimonene a highly promising candidate for roomtemperature quantum spin Hall material.