News

Time crystals may hold secret to coherence in quantum computing

New experimental evidence also lays groundwork for new ways of studying time
Rotating cryostat

An Aalto University study has provided new evidence that time crystals can physically exist – a claim currently under hot debate.  

A time crystal is a structure that does not repeat in space, like normal three-dimensional crystals such as snowflakes or diamonds, but in time. In practice this means that crystals constantly undergo spontaneous change, breaking the symmetry of time by achieving a self-sustaining oscillation.

The value is in the time crystal’s coherency, a property that allows temporal and spatial consistency, amounting to longevity otherwise not possible.

‘Nature has given us a system that wants to be coherent over time,’ says Senior Scientist Vladimir Eltsov, leader of the ROTA research group at Aalto University.

‘The system spontaneously begins to evolve in time coherently, over long periods of time, even infinitely long,’ he shares.

With more understanding, the coherent nature of a time crystal may pave the way for eventual real-world applications. Researchers are hunting for systems that preserve coherence over the long term to make, for example, quantum information processing devices, but they struggle with sources resistant to decay.

Until recently, there has been little experimental evidence of the phenomenon. Physicists around the world have been racing to determine if – and how – these unique structures can be observed.

‘There has been a lot of theoretical papers, but very few practical realizations. So ours is one of the few, and the first to demonstrate quasi-crystals,’ says Eltsov explains.

By understanding the fundamentals of time crystals – as in, when and how they materialize – researchers may be one day able to harness these principles to develop coherency in other devices, regardless of environmental factors.

The finding, achieved by studying the Bose–Einstein condensation of magnons in superfluid Helium-3, also has implications for other branches of physics.

‘Helium-3 is related to practically all branches of physics: gravity, topology, particle physics, cosmology,’ says Professor Emeritus Grigori Volovik at Aalto University, a global pioneer in the study of connections between cosmology, high-energy physics and condensed matter.

In the future it may even be possible to look at time itself, including the possibility of constructing the boundary between time going forward and back, as theory suggests.

‘It is an entire universe of study,’ Volovik emphasizes.

The scientists observed the time quasicrystal and its transition to a superfluid time crystal at the Low Temperature Laboratory at Aalto University in Finland, which has a long-standing history of research on superfluidity.

The results of the study, funded by the European Research Council, were published in Physical Review Letters on May 25, 2018.

Link to the article (journals.aps.org)

Contact:

Senior Scientist Vladimir Eltsov
tel. +358 50 344 2428
[email protected]

Professor Emeritus Grigori Volovik
tel. +358 50 344 2858
[email protected]

  • Published:
  • Updated:
Share
URL copied!

Read more news

A night-vision image of a mouse swimming in darkness
Press releases Published:

The limits of vision: seeing shadows in the dark

A dedicated neural circuit in the retina detects shadows even in near-complete darkness
The design space in the virtual reality task
Press releases, Research & Art Published:

Designers find better solutions with computer assistance, but sacrifice creative touch

Computer-guided design can propose more solutions and balance out human inexperience and design fixation
Two models wearing grey solar cell clothing.
Press releases Published:

Researchers developed invisible, machine-washable solar cell technology for clothing

The discrete nature of the cells protects them – and makes the clothes more attractive, the physics and design researchers say. Promising applications include work and outdoor clothing, and curtains which react to changes in the amount of light.
A night sky with the northern lights visible behind the silhouettes of trees. / Yötaivas, jossa revontulet näkyvät puiden siluettien takana.
Press releases Published:

The aurora borealis can be heard even when they can’t be seen

Recordings reveal sounds linked with geomagnetic activity that’s too weak to cause northern lights at the same spot