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Concept: SQUID


Nonlinear and switchable metamaterials achieved by artificial structuring on the subwavelength scale have become a central topic in photonics research. Switching with only a few quanta of excitation per metamolecule, metamaterial’s elementary building block, is the ultimate goal, achieving which will open new opportunities for energy efficient signal handling and quantum information processing. Recently, arrays of Josephson junction devices have been proposed as a possible solution. However, they require extremely high levels of nanofabrication. Here we introduce a new quantum superconducting metamaterial which exploits the magnetic flux quantization for switching. It does not contain Josephson junctions, making it simple to fabricate and scale into large arrays. The metamaterial was manufactured from a high-temperature superconductor and characterized in the low intensity regime, providing the first observation of the quantum phenomenon of flux exclusion affecting the far-field electromagnetic properties of the metamaterial.

Concepts: Quantum mechanics, Physics, Condensed matter physics, Superconductivity, Josephson effect, SQUID, Magnetic flux quantum, Brian David Josephson


Vampire squid (Vampyroteuthis infernalis) are considered phylogenetic relics with cephalopod features of both octopods and squids. They lack feeding tentacles, but in addition to their eight arms, they have two retractile filaments, the exact functions of which have puzzled scientists for years. We present the results of investigations on the feeding ecology and behaviour of Vampyroteuthis, which include extensive in situ, deep-sea video recordings from MBARI’s remotely operated vehicles (ROVs), laboratory feeding experiments, diet studies and morphological examinations of the retractile filaments, the arm suckers and cirri. Vampire squid were found to feed on detrital matter of various sizes, from small particles to larger marine aggregates. Ingested items included the remains of gelatinous zooplankton, discarded larvacean houses, crustacean remains, diatoms and faecal pellets. Both ROV observations and laboratory experiments led to the conclusion that vampire squid use their retractile filaments for the capture of food, supporting the hypothesis that the filaments are homologous to cephalopod arms. Vampyroteuthis' feeding behaviour is unlike any other cephalopod, and reveals a unique adaptation that allows these animals to spend most of their life at depths where oxygen concentrations are very low, but where predators are few and typical cephalopod food is scarce.

Concepts: Bioluminescence, Cuttlefish, SQUID, Octopodiformes, Vampire squid, Cephalopod, Cephalopods, Muscular hydrostat


Giant and colossal deep-sea squid (Architeuthis and Mesonychoteuthis) have the largest eyes in the animal kingdom [1, 2], but there is no explanation for why they would need eyes that are nearly three times the diameter of those of any other extant animal. Here we develop a theory for visual detection in pelagic habitats, which predicts that such giant eyes are unlikely to evolve for detecting mates or prey at long distance but are instead uniquely suited for detecting very large predators, such as sperm whales. We also provide photographic documentation of an eyeball of about 27 cm with a 9 cm pupil in a giant squid, and we predict that, below 600 m depth, it would allow detection of sperm whales at distances exceeding 120 m. With this long range of vision, giant squid get an early warning of approaching sperm whales. Because the sonar range of sperm whales exceeds 120 m [3-5], we hypothesize that a well-prepared and powerful evasive response to hunting sperm whales may have driven the evolution of huge dimensions in both eyes and bodies of giant and colossal squid. Our theory also provides insights into the vision of Mesozoic ichthyosaurs with unusually large eyes.

Concepts: Eye, Sperm whale, Megafauna, SQUID, Cephalopod, Colossal Squid, Giant squid, Deep-sea gigantism


The Josephson effect is perhaps the prototypical manifestation of macroscopic phase coherence, and forms the basis of a widely used electronic interferometer–the superconducting quantum interference device (SQUID). In 1965, Maki and Griffin predicted that the thermal current through a temperature-biased Josephson tunnel junction coupling two superconductors should be a stationary periodic function of the quantum phase difference between the superconductors: a temperature-biased SQUID should therefore allow heat currents to interfere, resulting in a thermal version of the electric Josephson interferometer. This phase-dependent mechanism of thermal transport has been the subject of much discussion but, surprisingly, has yet to be realized experimentally. Here we investigate heat exchange between two normal metal electrodes kept at different temperatures and tunnel-coupled to each other through a thermal ‘modulator’ (ref. 5) in the form of a direct-current SQUID. We find that heat transport in the system is phase dependent, in agreement with the original prediction. Our Josephson heat interferometer yields magnetic-flux-dependent temperature oscillations of up to 21 millikelvin in amplitude, and provides a flux-to-temperature transfer coefficient exceeding 60 millikelvin per flux quantum at 235 millikelvin. In addition to confirming the existence of a phase-dependent thermal current unique to Josephson junctions, our results point the way towards the phase-coherent manipulation of heat in solid-state nanocircuits.

Concepts: Condensed matter physics, Phase, Heat transfer, Superconductivity, Josephson effect, SQUID, Magnetic flux quantum, Brian David Josephson


Abstract Sourcing energy for reproduction is a major driver of the life-history characteristics of animals. Unlike other molluscs, cephalopods do not appear to have significant glycogen stores, and energy is either sourced directly from ingested food or mobilized from protein stores in the muscle. Given the importance of protein to cephalopods, this study quantified changes in protein turnover in the muscle tissue in reproductively immature and maturing/mature individuals. Quantifying protein accretion and protein synthesis allowed an assessment of protein turnover in immature and maturing individuals of the southern dumpling squid (Euprymna tasmanica), which has fast nonasymptotic growth, has a short generation time, and does not use lipid stores. This study found that protein turnover slowed in the mantle muscle tissue with gonad growth, suggesting an adaptive response to the energy demands associated with reproduction but one that allows for continued somatic growth and muscle function in these animals. However, the cost of reproduction may be indirect, with less energy available for somatic repair, and therefore may be responsible for the rapid senescence typical of many cephalopod species.

Concepts: Metabolism, Energy, Muscle, Glycogen, Cuttlefish, SQUID, Bobtail squid, Cephalopod


In a conventional Josephson junction of graphene, the supercurrent is not turned off even at the charge neutrality point, impeding further development of superconducting quantum information devices based on graphene. Here we fabricate bipolar Josephson junctions of graphene, in which a p-n potential barrier is formed in graphene with two closely spaced superconducting contacts, and realize supercurrent ON/OFF states using electrostatic gating only. The bipolar Josephson junctions of graphene also show fully gate-driven macroscopic quantum tunnelling behaviour of Josephson phase particles in a potential well, where the confinement energy is gate tuneable. We suggest that the supercurrent OFF state is mainly caused by a supercurrent dephasing mechanism due to a random pseudomagnetic field generated by ripples in graphene, in sharp contrast to other nanohybrid Josephson junctions. Our study may pave the way for the development of new gate-tuneable superconducting quantum information devices.

Concepts: Quantum mechanics, Fundamental physics concepts, Condensed matter physics, Superconductivity, Josephson effect, SQUID, Magnetic flux quantum, Brian David Josephson


Non-Abelian anyons-particles whose exchange noncommutatively transforms a system’s quantum state-are widely sought for the exotic fundamental physics they harbour and for quantum computing applications. Numerous blueprints now exist for stabilizing the simplest type of non-Abelian anyon, defects binding Majorana modes, by interfacing widely available materials. Here we introduce a device fabricated from conventional fractional quantum Hall states and s-wave superconductors that supports exotic non-Abelian defects binding parafermionic zero modes, which generalize Majorana bound states. We show that these new modes can be experimentally identified (and distinguished from Majoranas) using Josephson measurements. We also provide a practical recipe for braiding parafermionic zero modes and show that they give rise to non-Abelian statistics. Interestingly, braiding in our setup produces a richer set of topologically protected operations when compared with the Majorana case. As a byproduct, we establish a new, experimentally realistic Majorana platform in weakly spin-orbit-coupled materials such as gallium arsenide.

Concepts: Quantum mechanics, Condensed matter physics, Quantum field theory, Computer, Superconductivity, SQUID, Topological quantum computer, Anyon


Superconducting and topological states are two most intriguing quantum phenomena in solid materials. The entanglement of these two states, the topological superconducting state, will give rise to even more exotic quantum phenomena. While many materials are found to be either a superconductor or a topological insulator, it is very rare that both states exist in one material. Here, we demonstrate by first-principles theory as well as scanning tunnelling spectroscopy and angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy experiments that the recently discovered ‘two-dimensional (2D) superconductor’ of single-layer FeSe also exhibits 1D topological edge states within an energy gap of ∼40 meV at the M point below the Fermi level. It is the first 2D material that supports both superconducting and topological states, offering an exciting opportunity to study 2D topological superconductors through the proximity effect.

Concepts: Electron, Quantum mechanics, Physics, Condensed matter physics, Quantum field theory, Superconductivity, SQUID, BCS theory


Superconducting circuits offer tremendous design flexibility in the quantum regime culminating most recently in the demonstration of few qubit systems supposedly approaching the threshold for fault-tolerant quantum information processing. Competition in the solid-state comes from semiconductor qubits, where nature has bestowed some very useful properties which can be utilized for spin qubit-based quantum computing. Here we begin to explore how selective design principles deduced from spin-based systems could be used to advance superconducting qubit science. We take an initial step along this path proposing an encoded qubit approach realizable with state-of-the-art tunable Josephson junction qubits. Our results show that this design philosophy holds promise, enables microwave-free control, and offers a pathway to future qubit designs with new capabilities such as with higher fidelity or, perhaps, operation at higher temperature. The approach is also especially suited to qubits on the basis of variable super-semi junctions.

Concepts: Quantum information science, Condensed matter physics, Nuclear magnetic resonance, Quantum computer, Qubit, Quantum information, Josephson effect, SQUID


We run a selection of algorithms on two state-of-the-art 5-qubit quantum computers that are based on different technology platforms. One is a publicly accessible superconducting transmon device (www.

Concepts: Quantum computer, Computer, Computation, SQUID, Theoretical computer science