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Researchers Jaka Pišljar, Miha Škarabot, Andriy Nych, Matevž Marinčič, Miha Ravnik and Igor Muševič from the F5 department and Alenka Mertelj and Andrej Petelin from the F7 department of the Jožef Stefan Institute have in collaboration with researchers from University of Kolkata and Assam in India published a new research paper entitled BPIII: Topological Fluid of Skyrmions in the Physical Review X journal. In their work, the authors use several experimental techniques aided by numerical simulations to elucidate the intriguing and so far not definitively explained structure of the blue phase III (BPIII) found in highly chiral liquid crystals. They show that in bulk, the BPIII is a highly dynamic disordered tangle of skyrmion filaments, which in thin layers disentangle into a 2D lattice of half-skyrmions. These filaments are like long ropes with a cross-section of a vortex whirling from the center to the periphery. In their structure, they are akin to magnetic skyrmions, which have been widely researched in the last decades for applications in information storage. Due to their relatively broad stability close to room temperature, these liquid crystal skyrmions could be a platform for soft matter skyrmionic devices, where information-storing skyrmions are created and detected with light.

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In the News and Views section of Nature, Denis Golež [Department of Theoretical Physics and Department of Complex Matter, Jožef Stefan Institute, and the University of Ljubljana] and Zhiyuan Sun [Harvard University] published an article A compact device sustains a fluid of bosons. Authors describe the discovery of an exotic fluid of particles in a device designed from thin layers of semiconductors. The fluid is composed of bosonic particles, bound pairs of electrons and holes in a semiconductor, called excitons. Although the experiment could not prove quantum coherence and superfluid unambiguously, the work represents a significant step toward stabilizing Bose-Einstein condensate at high temperatures and equilibrium conditions. Authors present their vision of the field based on precise manipulation of materials on the nanoscale to reach coherent quantum states. They finish with propositions for various useful devices which could emerge from such an effort, including excitonic transistors, memory elements and even quantum simulators.

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Doc. dr. Matjaž Humar from the Department of Condensed Matter Physics at Jožef Stefan Institute, and researchers from UK, USA and Japan have published an article titled Whispering-gallery-mode sensors for biological and physical sensing in Nature Reviews Methods Primers. In the paper the authors introduce whispering-gallery-mode microcavities in different geometries, such as microspheres, microtoroids, microcapillaries and microrings. Whispering-gallery-mode microcavities are miniature micro-interferometers that use the multiple-cavity passes of light for very sensitive measurements at the microscale and nanoscale, including single-molecule and ion measurements. The authors describe sensing mechanisms, including mode splitting and resonance shift, and optomechanical and optoplasmonic signal transductions. Applications and experimental results cover in-vivo and single-molecule sensing, gyroscopes and microcavity quantum electrodynamics.

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Neelakandan M Santhosh and colleagues from the Department for Gaseous Electronics have recently published a scientific article Advancing Li-ion storage performance with hybrid vertical carbon/Ni3S2-based electrodes in collaboration with researchers from Kyung Hee University, South Korea. In this article, the authors demonstrate a fast and feasible method to develop hybrid nanostructure-based electrode materials to advance the Li-ion storage capabilities of batteries. Targeting to develop energy storage materials for next-generation devices, they successfully fabricated a hybrid electrode material comprised of carbon nanotube and nickel sulfide. Based on the electrochemical energy storage performance, the reported electrode material outperforms most of the similar electrode materials by achieving ultra-high specific capacity and excellent long term stability. Developing ultra-high performing energy materials is critical as the demand for alternative energy sources and consumer needs increases. Therefore, the findings of this article could provide a path towards designing next-generation battery materials at a low cost.

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