Thanks to the latest technologies and a new recipe, time crystals have stopped being just a dream as two research teams have managed to build them.
Time crystals first became a scientific subject matter back in 2012. At the time, Frank Wilczek speculated that they may, in fact, exist. Wilczek is a Nobel laureate and MIT physicist.
This idea reportedly came as he was teaching about crystals. Typically, these are formed by regularly repeating patterns. These form in a three-dimensional space. According to Wilczek, this structure could be repeated. But in time, rather than space. Instead of regular atoms, it would have regular motions.
Now a paper released earlier this month reveals their potential blueprint. And this same plan was already followed by two teams.
Details about the time crystals plan were published in the Physical Review Letter journal. Available online since January, the paper was titled as follows. “discrete Time Crystals: Rigidity, Criticality, and Realizations”.
Research was led by Norman Yao. He is part of the University of California, Berkeley. And according to him, the time crystals are a new “phase of matter”. These would be the first examples of a “non-equilibrium matter”. In their research, Yao and his team have developed their blueprint.
And it has already been followed by two research groups. The first to try was led by Chris Conroe. He is part of the University of Maryland in College Park. A second team was led by Mikhail Lukin. He is part Harvard University.
Both teams have tried to build the time crystals. And they both submitted papers detailing their production processes and research. These should appear sometimes next month. The teams were guided by Yao’s recipe.
In September, the University of Maryland achieved the first such crystal. It is based on a string of trapped ytterbium ions. The Harvard team chose a different approach. A month later, they revealed a time crystal build from a diamond. The scientists exploited its formation defects.
Both groups achieved a similar property. The atoms in their composition did form a pattern. But this did not reach equilibrium. This could open a new road in the future physics research.
These time crystals are the first examples of non-equilibrium formations. And at the same time, their simplest form.
Researchers resembled them to Jell-O. Just as the latter, they never stop oscillating. And they do not have to be touched in order to jiggle. As they pointed out, the crystals cannot stop their motion.
They do not use any energy in doing so. And can continue even at low energy levels. More research will be needed. The non-equilibrium area has just started being explored.
As it is, the time crystals are a scientific breakthrough. But for the moment, at least, they lack a practical use. Research has yet to establish their best utilization.
However, preliminary studies indicate the following. They may come to serve in building and developing quantum computers. Such devices could help process quantum information. In the future, they may provide highly exact calculations.
Spyridon Michalakis praised Yao’s work. The former is a California Institute of Technology physicist. According to him, the base study bridges a gap. It helps unite theoretical knowledge and experimentation. It contributed by making concrete suggestions. Which were then applied in the experimental platforms.
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