Physicists have just taken an amazing step toward quantum devices that look like something out of science fiction.
For the first time, isolated groups of particles behave strangely States of matter Known as time crystals, they have been linked into one sophisticated system that can be incredibly useful Quantitative Statistics.
After the first observation of the interaction between two time crystals, detailed in a paper two years ago, this is the next step toward the possibility of harnessing time crystals for practical purposes, such as quantum information processing.
Time crystals, which were only discovered and officially confirmed a few years ago in 2016, were once thought to be physically impossible. It’s a phase of matter very similar to regular crystals, but has an additional, very strange and special property.
In ordinary crystals, the atoms are arranged in a fixed three-dimensional lattice structure, such as the atomic lattice of a diamond or a quartz crystal. These repetitive clamps can vary in configuration, but any movement they show comes exclusively from external thrusts.
In time crystals, atoms behave slightly differently. They display patterns of movement in time that cannot be easily explained by an external impulse or impulse. These oscillations – referred to as “tick” – are locked to a regular and specified frequency.
Theoretically, time crystals beat in their lowest possible energy state – known as the ground state – and are thus stable and coherent over long periods of time. Therefore, as the regular crystal structure repeats in space, time crystals repeat in space and time, showing the permanent ground state motion.
“Everyone knows that perpetual motion machines are impossible,” Says physicist and lead author Samuli Autti from Lancaster University in the United Kingdom.
“However, in quantum physics, perpetual motion is fine as long as we close our eyes. By slipping through this slit we can make time crystals.”
The time crystals that the team worked on are formed quasiparticles They are called Magnons. Magnons are not real particles, but consist of a collective excitation of a spinning electron, like a wave propagating through a network of spins.
Magnonites arise when helium-3 – a stable isotope of helium with two protons but only one neutron – is cooled to one ten-thousandth of a degree of absolute zero. This results in what is called superpass B, which is a viscous, low-pressure liquid.
In this medium, time crystals formed as spatially distinct Bose-Einstein condensates, each consisting of a trillion magnon quasiparticles.
a Bose-Einstein condenser It consists of bosons cooled to a fraction above absolute zero (but not up to absolute zero, at which point the atoms stop moving).
This causes them to sink into a low-energy state, move very slowly, and come together enough to overlap, producing a high-density cloud of atoms that acts like a single “super atom” or matter wave.
When the two crystals that had been allowed to touch each other, they exchanged vocalizations. This exchange affected the oscillation of each time crystal, creating a single system with the option to operate in two separate states.
In quantum physics, things that can have more than one state exist in a mixture of those states before they are superimposed by a clear analogy. So having a file time crystal It operates in a two-state system It provides rich new choices as a basis for quantum-based technologies.
Time crystals are a fair way to use them as qubits, as there are a large number of obstacles to solve first. But the pieces are starting to fall into place.
Earlier this year, a different team of physicists announced that they had succeeded in making room-temperature time crystals that did not need to be isolated from their surroundings.
More complex interactions between time crystals, and their precise control, will need further development, as will the monitoring of interacting time crystals without the need for supercooled fluids. But scientists are optimistic.
“It turns out that putting the two of them together works beautifully, even if the time crystals weren’t there in the first place,” says Autti. “And we already know it’s also there at room temperature.”
The search was published in Nature Communications.