Glancing into a Nuclear Mirror: the Fate of Aluminum-26 in Stars

Aluminum-26 has a quantum state difficult to study in a lab. Scientists instead use ion beam-target interactions to create an environment that adds a neutron to the radioactive isotope Silicon-26 to study excited quantum states in Silicon-27. This approach is possible because of the symmetry between protons and neutrons. This provides rare insight into processes in stars.

Uncovering Hidden Local States in a Quantum Material

States of local broken symmetry at high temperature—observed in several materials, including one with a metal-insulator transition, an iron-based superconductor, and an insulating mineral part of the Earth’s upper mantle—may enable the technologically relevant properties arising at much-lower temperature.