Created a new kind of time crystal that does interesting things for lighting
(ORDO NEWS) — Scientists are still trying to figure out all the intricacies of the strange materials known as time crystals. structures that buzz with motion forever.
Now, a new diversity could help deepen our understanding of the mysterious state of matter.
Just as regular crystals are atoms and molecules repeating themselves in space, time crystals are collections of particles that tick into patterns over a period of time in ways that at first seem defying science.
Theorized in 2012 and first discovered in the lab just four years later, researchers have been busy tinkering with the structures to explore the deeper underpinnings of particle physics and uncover potential applications.
In this latest research, a new type of “photonic” time crystal has been created.
Operating at microwave frequencies, it is able to purify and amplify electromagnetic waves, promising future applications in wireless communication systems, laser design, and electronic circuits.
“In a photonic time crystal, photons are arranged in a pattern that repeats over time,” says lead author Xucheng Wang, a nanotechnologist at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany.
“This means that the photons in the crystal are synchronized and coherent, which can lead to constructive interference and amplification of light.”
In addition, the research team found that electromagnetic waves propagating along surfaces can be amplified, as can waves from the environment.
The focus of the study is a 2D approach based on ultra-thin sheets of artificial materials known as metasurfaces.
Previous research on photonic time crystals has been done using bulk 3D materials: creating and studying these materials is extremely difficult for scientists, but moving to 2D means a faster and easier path to experimentation and to figuring out how these crystals can be applied to real-world settings.
While they are simpler than full-fledged 3D structures, they share some important characteristics with photonic time crystals and can mimic their behavior, including how they interact with light.
For the first time, photonic time crystals have been shown to amplify light in this way and to such a large extent.
“We found that reducing the dimensionality of the 3D structure to 2D greatly simplifies the implementation, making photonic time crystals a reality,” says Wang.
Although real applications are still far away, the approach using 2D metasurfaces as a way to create and study photonic time crystals is developing to make this kind of research much easier in the future.
The discovery of the amplification of electromagnetic waves along surfaces, for example, could eventually help improve integrated circuits found everywhere from phones to cars: communications within these channels would potentially be faster and more efficient.
Also, there’s wireless, which can suffer from signal attenuation over distance (which is why you won’t be able to connect to Wi-Fi on the top floor of your house). Coating surfaces with 2D photonic time crystals promises to remedy this situation.
“When a surface wave propagates, material losses occur and the signal strength decreases,” says physicist Viktor Asadchy from Aalto University in Finland.
“With 2D photonic time crystals integrated into the system, it is possible to amplify the surface wave and improve communication efficiency.”
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