In an almost impossible experiment, physicists link two-time crystals
Two linked time crystals were made by physicists. These bizarre quantum systems aren’t subject to standard laws and are locked in an endless loop. Two-time crystals were connected by physicists to create a new type of quantum computer.
Live Science reached Samuli Autti, Lancaster University’s chief scientist on the project via email.
From crystal to eternity
We come across normal crystals every day, whether it is the ice in our cocktails or the diamonds in the jewelry. While crystals are beautiful, physicists view them as disrupting the natural symmetries.
The laws of physics are symmetrical in space. The fundamental equations of gravity and electromagnetism as well as quantum mechanics are symmetrical in space. They can be used in almost any direction. You should get the exact same results from a laboratory experiment that has been rotated 90 degrees.
Crystals break this beautiful symmetry. Because the molecules are placed in particular directions, crystals exhibit a pattern of repeated spatial structures. In the language of physicists, a crystal is an excellent example of “spontaneous symmetry breaking”. Although the fundamental laws of physics and physics are symmetrical in their arrangement, the arrangement of molecules may not be.
Frank Wilczek, a physicist from the Technology of Massachusetts Institute, noticed that the laws of Physics had asymmetry time in 2012. This means that every experiment should produce the same result, even if it is repeated later. Wilczek used an analogy for normal crystals but in the time dimension. He called this spontaneous symmetry breaking apart through time a “time crystal”. In the next few years, however, it was finally possible to construct one.
Autti explained that a time crystal can continue to move and repeat itself in space even without external encouragement. This is possible because of the low energy level of the time crystal. Quantum physics’ fundamental limitations prevent motion from being completely stationary. The time crystal is, therefore “stuck” within an infinite loop.
Autti explained that this means they are perpetual motion machines and therefore impossible to control.
Thermodynamics laws state that systems in equilibrium are more chaotic or less chaotic than those that are out of balance. The temperature of a coffee cup left out will cool it down and the pendulum at the end will stop swinging. A ball that is rolling on the ground will eventually rest. However, a time crystal ignores or defies thermodynamic laws. Quantum mechanics governs subatomic particles in the zoo, but time crystals do not.
Autti stated, “Physical sciences, a perpetual motion machine seems to work as long as our eyes are closed. It must only start slowing down if you analyze the motion.” He referred to the fact that time crystals can no longer function once they have experienced the world.
Therefore, physicists cannot see time crystals directly. If they attempt to observe one of the quantum principles that allow them to exist, then the time crystal will stop working. This concept goes beyond observation. Any interaction with the environment that reduces the quantum state of a time crystal has the effect of making it lose its time crystal status.
Autti’s team was charged to develop a method of interfacing with a quantum time crystal using classical observations. Quantum physics is an incredible force at the atomic level. Classic mechanics’ deterministic rules, principles, and bugs are what best describe insects, cats, planets, and black holes.
The connection between quantum and classical Physics is still unknown. One of the most intriguing mysteries in modern physics is how one becomes the other. The boundary between these two realms is covered by time crystals. Autti suggests that we may be able to remove the contact by studying the time crystals more deeply.
Magnons of magic
Autti and his coworkers used “magnons”, which made their time crystallized in the current research. Magnons can be described as “quasiparticles”, which form when a group of atoms comes together in a collective state. To chill helium-3 to 10 degrees above absolute zero, the physicists used helium-3 (which has two protons, and one neutron). That temperature made helium-3 a Bose-Einstein Condensate. This is when all atoms are in the same quantum state and can cooperate.
Magnons are magnetic energy waves that were formed when the spins of electrons in Helium-3 are connected. These waves drifted back and forth indefinitely, creating a time crystal.
Autti’s team gathered two magnon groups to influence each other. Each group worked as its own time crystal. The magnons merged to create a single-time crystal that has two states.
Autti’s research group is conducting experiments to understand the connection between quantum and classical physics. The team is working to create time crystals that interact with their environment without losing their quantum states. This will allow the time cristal to continue running even when it is being used for something else. However, this does not exclude the possibility that energy is possible. For example, while the motion associated with time crystals has no kinetic energy it can be used for quantum computing.
Because computation can only be done with two states, it is crucial to have them both. In traditional computer systems, a bit is the base unit of information. You can set this to either a 0 state or a 1. Quantum computing provides additional computing power through the ability to place each “qubit” in multiple places simultaneously.
This could be an indication that time crystals can now be used to make quantum devices that do not need to be tested in a laboratory. Autti stated that the two-level structure that he created would be an essential component of such a company.
Although this effort has not yet led to a functioning quantum computer, it opens new avenues for scientific research. Scientists might be able to adjust the two-time system of crystals without losing its quantum state. This could allow them to create larger systems that can be used for quantum computers.