- Published on 21 April 2020
Mathematical modelling of competing languages in a geographical area suggests two scenarios in which one or more minority languages will be more likely to survive.
Over 6,000 languages are currently spoken worldwide, but a substantial minority - well over 5% - are in danger of dying out. It is perhaps surprising that this fraction is no higher, as most models have so far predicted that a minority language will be doomed to extinction once contacts with speakers of the majority language reach a certain level. Statistical physicists Jean-Marc Luck from Université Paris-Saclay, Paris, France and Anita Mehta from the University of Oxford, UK have described, using mathematical modelling, two mechanisms through which this doomsday scenario does not occur, i.e. several languages come to coexist in the same area. This work is now published in EPJ B.
- Published on 12 March 2020
A new analysis of real earthquake data shows that the similarity between inter-earthquake times and distances displays a distinct relationship with their separation from an initial earthquake.
When large earthquakes occur, seismologists are well aware that subsequent, smaller tremors are likely to take place afterwards in the surrounding geographical region. So far, however, few studies have explored how the similarity between these inter-earthquake times and distances is related to their separation from initial events. In a new study published in EPJ B, researchers led by Min Lin at the Ocean University of China in Qingdao show for the first time that the two values become increasingly correlated the closer they are in time and space to previous, larger earthquakes.
- Published on 25 February 2020
In some specialised oscillators, two driving forces with significantly different frequencies can work together to make the whole system resonate.
Widely studied in many different fields, ‘nonlinear’ systems can display excessively dramatic responses when the forces which cause them to vibrate are changed. Some of these systems are sensitive to changes in the very parameters which define their driving forces, and can be well described using mathematical equations. These ‘parametric’ oscillators have been widely researched in the past, but so far, few studies have investigated how they will respond to multiple driving forces. In new research published in EPJ B, Dhruba Banerjee and colleagues at Jadavpur University in Kolkata explore this case in detail for the first time. They show that some parametric oscillators can be made to resonate when tuned by a high driving frequency to match a separate, far lower frequency.
- Published on 04 February 2020
The phase transitions of an ultracold gas under a fluctuating magnetic field show interesting patterns, particularly a loss of symmetry in the energy spectrum that is well observed in the disappearance of the ‘Hofstadter’s butterfly’ effect.
It is now technically possible to hold groups of atoms at temperatures that are only a few hundredths of a degree above absolute zero. This so-called ‘ultracold gas’ loaded in an optical lattice is an extremely powerful platform to study quantum mechanical phenomena including phase transitions, due to the excellent control of experimental parameters, such as potential depths, inter-particle interaction strengths and lattice parameters. Sk Noor Nabi from Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China and colleagues in the Indian Institute of Technology, Guwahati, India, have studied the phase transition between the Mott insulating (MI) and superfluid (SF) states of such a gas in a time-dependent synthetic magnetic field. Their results, published in EPJ B, show that the energy spectrum of the gas loses symmetry in the fluctuating magnetic field. This is observed in the disappearance of the striking ‘Hofstadter’s butterfly’ effect seen in the energy spectrum under a constant magnetic field.
EPJ B Topical Review - Electronic structure and optical properties of semiconductor nanowires polytypes
- Published on 29 January 2020
Advances in the fabrication and characterization of nanowires polytypes have made crystal phase engineering a well-established tool to tailor material properties. In a new review article published in EPJB, Luiz Galvão Tizei and Michele Amato (Université Paris-Saclay, CNRS, LPS, France) describe recent progress in the field, with special focus on the central role that crystal phase has in modulating the electronic and optical properties of nanowires.
- Published on 15 January 2020
A theoretical analysis of electron spins in slowly moving quantum dots suggests these can be controlled by electric fields.
The name ‘quantum dots’ is given to particles of semiconducting materials that are so tiny – a few nanometres in diameter – that they no longer behave quite like ordinary, macroscopic matter. Thanks to their quantum-like optical and electronic properties, they are showing promise as components of quantum computing devices, but these properties are not yet fully understood. Physicists Sanjay Prabhakar of Gordon State College, Georgia, USA and Roderick Melnik of Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Canada have now described the theory behind some of these novel properties in detail. This work is published in EPJ B.
- Published on 10 January 2020
The new year sees big changes for EPJ B, with two new Editors-in-Chief appointed from January 2020. Prof Dr Heiko Rieger (Saarland University, Germany) and Prof Eduardo Hernandez (ICMM-CSIC, Spain) take on joint EiC roles, with broad responsibility for papers in statistical physics and condensed matter physics respectively. At the same time, Prof Bikas Chakrabarti (Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics, Kolkata, India) and Prof Wenhui Duan (Tsinghua University, China) step down from their roles as Executive Editors on the journal.
- Published on 02 December 2019
An existing technique is better suited to describing superconductivity in pure, single-layer graphene than current methods.
Made up of 2D sheets of carbon atoms arranged in honeycomb lattices, graphene has been intensively studied in recent years. As well as the material’s diverse structural properties, physicists have paid particular attention to the intriguing dynamics of the charge carriers its many variants can contain. The mathematical techniques used to study these physical processes have proved useful so far, but they have had limited success in explaining graphene’s ‘critical temperature’ of superconductivity, below which its’ electrical resistance drops to zero. In a new study published in EPJ B, Jacques Tempere and colleagues at the University of Antwerp in Belgium demonstrate that an existing technique is better suited for probing superconductivity in pure, single-layer graphene than previously thought.
- Published on 16 October 2019
By considering the crystal structures of atomic clusters in new ways, researchers may be able to better assess whether the groups have distinctive shapes, or whether they are amorphous.
Too large to be classed as molecules, but too small to be bulk solids, atomic clusters can range in size from a few dozen to several hundred atoms. The structures can be used for a diverse range of applications, which requires a detailed knowledge of their shapes. These are easy to describe using mathematics in some cases; while in others, their morphologies are far more irregular. However, current models typically ignore this level of detail; often defining clusters as simple ball-shaped structures. In research published in EPJ B, José M. Cabrera-Trujillo and colleagues at the Autonomous University of San Luis Potosí in Mexico propose a new method of identifying the morphologies of atomic clusters. They have now confirmed that the distinctive geometric shapes of some clusters, as well as the irregularity of amorphous structures, can be fully identified mathematically.
- Published on 18 September 2019
A new agent-based computer modelling technique has been applied to the growth and sliding movement of colonies of bacteria
As many people will remember from school science classes, bacteria growing on solid surfaces form colonies that can be easily visible to the naked eye. Each of these is a complex biological system in its own right; colonies display collective behaviours that indicate a kind of 'social intelligence' and grow in fractal patterns that can resemble snowflakes. Despite this complexity, colony growth can be modelled using principles of basic physics. Lautaro Vassallo and his co-workers in Universidad Nacional de Mar del Plata, Argentina have modelled such growth using a novel method in which the behaviour of each of the bacteria is simulated separately. This work has now been published in the journal EPJ B.