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August

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Nature, Published online: 30 August 2019; doi:10.1038/d41586-019-02595-4
In the Nature PastCast series, we delve into the archives to tell the stories behind some of Nature’s biggest papers.

Nature, Published online: 30 August 2019; doi:10.1038/d41586-019-02588-3
The government has acted following concerns about China's influence on campuses.

The regeneration of tooth enamel, the hardest biological tissue, remains a considerable challenge because its complicated and well-aligned apatite structure has not been duplicated artificially. We herein reveal that a rationally designed material composed of calcium phosphate ion clusters can be used to produce a precursor layer to induce the epitaxial crystal growth of enamel apatite, which mimics the biomineralization crystalline-amorphous frontier of hard tissue development in nature. After repair, the damaged enamel can be recovered completely because its hierarchical structure and mechanical properties are identical to those of natural enamel. The suggested phase transformation–based epitaxial growth follows a promising strategy for enamel regeneration and, more generally, for biomimetic reproduction of materials with complicated structure.

Until the 19th century, lead white was the most important white pigment used in oil paintings. Lead white is typically composed of two crystalline lead carbonates: hydrocerussite [2PbCO3·Pb(OH)2] and cerussite (PbCO3). Depending on the ratio between hydrocerussite and cerussite, lead white can be classified into different subtypes, each with different optical properties. Current methods to investigate and differentiate between lead white subtypes involve invasive sampling on a microscopic scale, introducing problems of paint damage and representativeness. In this study, a 17th century painting Girl with a Pearl Earring (by Johannes Vermeer, c. 1665, collection of the Mauritshuis, NL) was analyzed with a recently developed mobile and noninvasive macroscopic x-ray powder diffraction (MA-XRPD) scanner within the project Girl in the Spotlight. Four different subtypes of lead white were identified using XRPD imaging at the macroscopic and microscopic scale, implying that Vermeer was highly ..

Topological surface states (TSSs) in a topological insulator are expected to be able to produce a spin-orbit torque that can switch a neighboring ferromagnet. This effect may be absent if the ferromagnet is conductive because it can completely suppress the TSSs, but it should be present if the ferromagnet is insulating. This study reports TSS-induced switching in a bilayer consisting of a topological insulator Bi2Se3 and an insulating ferromagnet BaFe12O19. A charge current in Bi2Se3 can switch the magnetization in BaFe12O19 up and down. When the magnetization is switched by a field, a current in Bi2Se3 can reduce the switching field by ~4000 Oe. The switching efficiency at 3 K is 300 times higher than at room temperature; it is ~30 times higher than in Pt/BaFe12O19. These strong effects originate from the presence of more pronounced TSSs at low temperatures due to enhanced surface conductivity and reduced bulk conductivity.

X-ray images of polyptych wings, or other artworks painted on both sides of their support, contain in one image content from both paintings, making them difficult for experts to “read.” To improve the utility of these x-ray images in studying these artworks, it is desirable to separate the content into two images, each pertaining to only one side. This is a difficult task for which previous approaches have been only partially successful. Deep neural network algorithms have recently achieved remarkable progress in a wide range of image analysis and other challenging tasks. We, therefore, propose a new self-supervised approach to this x-ray separation, leveraging an available convolutional neural network architecture; results obtained for details from the Adam and Eve panels of the Ghent Altarpiece spectacularly improve on previous attempts.

In engineering, the “softness” of an object, as measured by an indenter, manifests as two measurable parameters: (i) indentation depth and (ii) contact area. For humans, softness is not well defined, although it is believed that perception depends on the same two parameters. Decoupling their relative contributions, however, has not been straightforward because most bulk—”off-the-shelf”—materials exhibit the same ratio between the indentation depth and contact area. Here, we decoupled indentation depth and contact area by fabricating elastomeric slabs with precise thicknesses and microstructured surfaces. Human subject experiments using two-alternative forced-choice and magnitude estimation tests showed that the indentation depth and contact area contributed independently to perceived softness. We found an explicit relationship between the perceived softness of an object and its geometric properties. Using this approach, it is possible to design objects for human interaction with a desi..

The in situ two-dimensional (2D) and 3D imaging of the chemical speciation of organic fossils is an unsolved problem in paleontology and cultural heritage. Here, we use x-ray Raman scattering (XRS)–based imaging at the carbon K-edge to form 2D and 3D images of the carbon chemistry in two exceptionally preserved specimens, a fossil plant dating back from the Carboniferous and an ancient insect entrapped in 53-million-year-old amber. The 2D XRS imaging of the plant fossil reveals a homogeneous chemical composition with micrometric “pockets” of preservation, likely inherited from its geological history. The 3D XRS imaging of the insect cuticle displays an exceptionally well preserved remaining chemical signature typical of polysaccharides such as chitin around a largely hollowed-out inclusion. Our results open up new perspectives for in situ chemical speciation imaging of fossilized organic materials, with the potential to enhance our understanding of organic specimens and their paleobiol..

Absorbers suppress reflection and scattering of an incident wave by dissipating its energy into heat. As material absorption goes to zero, the energy impinging on an object is necessarily transmitted or scattered away. Specific forms of temporal modulation of the impinging signal can suppress wave scattering and transmission in the transient regime, mimicking the response of a perfect absorber without relying on material loss. This virtual absorption can store energy with large efficiency in a lossless material and then release it on demand. Here, we extend this concept to elastodynamics and experimentally show that longitudinal motion can be perfectly absorbed using a lossless elastic cavity. This energy is then released symmetrically or asymmetrically by controlling the relative phase of the impinging signals. Our work opens previously unexplored pathways for elastodynamic wave control and energy storage, which may be translated to other phononic and photonic systems of technological..

The electronic energy and dynamics of solvated electrons, the simplest yet elusive chemical species, is of interest in chemistry, physics, and biology. Here, we present the electron binding energy distributions of solvated electrons in liquid water, methanol, and ethanol accurately measured using extreme ultraviolet (EUV) photoelectron spectroscopy of liquids with a single-order high harmonic. The distributions are Gaussian in all cases. Using the EUV and UV photoelectron spectra of solvated electrons, we succeeded in retrieving sharp electron kinetic energy distributions from the spectra broadened and energy shifted by inelastic scattering in liquids, overcoming an obstacle in ultrafast UV photoelectron spectroscopy of liquids. The method is demonstrated for the benchmark systems of charge transfer to solvent reaction and ultrafast internal conversion of hydrated electron from the first excited state.