November 28, 2020

Scientists manage to create ‘time crystals’, a new state of matter


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Scientists manage to create ‘time crystals’.
University of Granada

Scientists from the University of Granada and Tübingen (Germany) have discovered a way to create time crystals, a new phase of matter that emulates a crystalline structure in the fourth dimension, time, rather than just in space, from extreme fluctuations in many-particle physical systems.

Time crystals are a new state of matter recently proposed by the Nobel Prize Professor Frank Wilczek, from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), in the United States.

The finding is especially relevant, explain the researchers, in fields such as metrology, for the design of more precise clocks, or in quantum computing, where time crystals can be used to simulate ground states or design more robust quantum computers.

In time crystals – whose existence was first suggested in 2012 – the atoms repeat a pattern through the fourth dimension, time, unlike normal crystals (like a diamond), which have atoms arranged in a repetitive spatial structure, has reported the University of Granada.

These new temporary crystals are characterized by making a periodic movement in time.

Researchers, including Rubén Hurtado Gutiérrez, Carlos Pérez Espigares and Pablo Hurtado, from the Department of Electromagnetism and Physics of Matter at the University of Granada, demonstrate in this study that certain dynamic phase transitions that appear in the rare fluctuations of many systems Physicists spontaneously break translational symmetry in time.

Scientists have proposed a new way to use this natural phenomenon to create time crystals.

To carry out the simulations of this work, the scientists have used the Proteus supercomputer, belonging to the Carlos I Institute of Theoretical and Computational Physics of the University of Granada, considered one of the most powerful general scientific calculation supercomputers in Spain.

The investigator Pablo Hurtado explains that “Einstein’s relativity taught us that time is somehow flexible, and that it is inextricably linked to space in a whole that we know as spacetime.”

This unification is, however, partial, since time is still special in many ways, says the scientist, who gives as an example that “we can move back and forth between any two points in space, but nevertheless we cannot visit the past. ; time has an arrow, while space has no such arrow. ”

In his study, scientists propose a route unexplored until now to construct time crystals, based on the recent observation of spontaneous breaking of time translational symmetry in fluctuations of many-particle systems.

The results, the researchers say, are important because they open an unexplored path to better understand time and its symmetries, while, on a practical level, they teach new ways to create time crystals.

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