An international team of researchers from Lancaster, Yale, Royal Holloway London, and Aalto University has observed the interaction of a new phase of materials called “Time Crystals” for the first time ever.
What are the Time Crystals?
A time crystal or space-time crystal is a state of matter that repeats in time, as well as in space. Normal three-dimensional crystals have a repeating pattern in space, but remain unchanged as time passes. Time crystals repeat themselves in time as well, leading the crystal to change from moment to moment. They were first theorized in 2012 by Nobel Laureate Frank Wilczek and identified in 2016
These time crystals may be used in quantum information processing. As you might be knowing that, the major problem in quantum networks is coherence i.e remaining intact in a state. Time crystals can solve this problem.
Dr. Samuli Autti, the lead author from Lancaster University, said: “Controlling the interaction of two-time crystals is a major achievement. Before this, nobody had observed two-time crystals in the same system, let alone seen them interact.
“Controlled interactions are the number one item on the wish list of anyone looking to harness a time crystal for practical applications, such as quantum information processing.”
The team carried out this experiment with Helium-3 at Aalto University.
Researchers cooled superfluid helium-3 to within one ten-thousandth of a degree from absolute zero. The team then created two-time crystals inside the superfluid and allowed them to touch.
They observed the two-time crystals interacting and exchanging constituent particles flowing from one time crystal to the other one, and back. This phenomenon also has a name and is known as the Josephson effect.
Time crystals have a lot of potential to be unlocked, they could be used to improve atomic clocks, gyroscopes, and systems that rely on atomic clocks, such as GPS.
AC Josephson effect between two superfluid time crystals, Nature Materials (2020). DOI: 10.1038/s41563-020-0780-y , www.nature.com/articles/s41563-020-0780-y