Lasers expose hidden electronic order

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Science  21 Apr 2017:
Vol. 356, Issue 6335, pp. 246-247
DOI: 10.1126/science.aam8369

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Over 40 years ago, Phil Anderson wrote, “It is only slightly overstating the case to say that physics is the study of symmetry” (1). Moreover, he argued, some of the most interesting and fundamental physics emerges from the study of broken symmetry. For example, isotropic atoms, when interacting through isotropic forces, can coalesce to form a plainly not-isotropic crystal. On page 295 of this issue, Harter et al. (2) present results that prove Anderson's point by identifying a subtle symmetry change in the correlated metal Cd2Re2O7 that may point the way to a new phase of matter—a type of quantum liquid crystal.