Physicists first observed the interaction of “time crystals”

(ORDO NEWS) — Scientists from Great Britain, Finland and Russia for the first time in history have witnessed the interaction between two temporary crystals, representing a new phase of matter. The research results are published in the journal Nature Materials.

The term temporal or temporal crystal defines a physical system in which the symmetry is broken with a shift in relation to time, just as in ordinary crystals the symmetry of space is broken.

The theoretical possibility of the existence of temporary crystals was predicted in 2012 by the American physicist, Nobel Prize winner Frank Wilczek. He suggested that in such a system, in a state of equilibrium and in the absence of external influences, periodic movements should spontaneously arise. In this case, the role of lattice sites can be played not only by atoms and electrons, but also by photons or quasiparticles, for example, phonons.

For the first time, quantum time crystals were experimentally demonstrated in 2017 on the basis of nonequilibrium systems, in which the symmetry was broken using laser or microwave radiation.

“Guided interactions are the number one element on the wishlist of anyone looking to use time crystals for practical applications such as quantum information processing,” first author of the study, Dr. Samuli Autti of Lancaster University, said in a press release. “Before that, no one had observed two time crystals in the same system, let alone interact.”

In an experiment on a rotating cryostat at Aalto University in Finland, the authors cooled the superfluid isotope helium-3 to a temperature close to absolute zero with an accuracy of one ten-thousandth of a degree (0.0001 kelvin, or minus 273.15 degrees Celsius). The researchers then created two temporary crystals inside the superfluid and allowed them to touch.

Scientists have observed how two time crystals, whose atoms are constantly vibrating, rotating or moving first in one direction and then in another, interact and exchange component particles that flow from one “time crystal” to another and back – a phenomenon known as the Josephson effect …

The authors note that temporary crystals have great potential for practical applications. They can be used to create ultra-sensitive sensors and the most accurate atomic clocks, as well as systems based on their readings, such as gyroscopes and GPS.

In addition, it is believed that controlling the interactions of temporal crystals will allow quantum computation to be performed at a sufficiently high temperature, since the temporal crystals remain intact – coherent – under various conditions.

This, in turn, will lead to a breakthrough in quantum information processing, since protecting coherence is the main difficulty hindering the development of powerful quantum computers.


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