Once considered as a staple of Sci-Fi , “time crystals” are now increasingly considered as a completely unique state of matter. The list containing Solids, Liquids, Gases, Plasma & more recently added ‘Liquid Glass’ continues to expand. While highly ordered crystalline structures occur in things like Salt, snowflakes, and diamonds — scientists have wondered if these atomic structure patterns can repeat in time, instead of in space. And this is often where the concept of your time crystals falls in.
First theorized in 2012 by MIT’s Noble Laureate Physicist Frank Wilczek, the concept initiated a contentious debate among scientific circles, on its feasibility. It wasn’t until 2017 when scientists were actually ready to create a time crystal in practical lab environment. Taking this discovery one step further, last year, a inter-national team of researchers made a shocking breakthrough that these time crystals could interact with one another .
Although time crystals are hard to seek out , Google researchers now claim to possess observed a genuine-time crystal employing a quantum processor. This, they believe, could lead on to a “scalable approach” to review time crystals on current quantum processors. Unlike the normal states of matter which are in thermal-equilibrium , the time crystal is that the first “out-of-equilibrium” phase — having order & excellent stability despite being in an excited and evolving state.
To observe the weird property of a time crystal in Google’s quantum processor, Sycamore, researchers applied a group of specific quantum operations to qubits spinning upwards & downwards in closed system — done to vary the state of qubits with repeated iterations, the ultimate configuration was eerily almost like original setup.
Applying these operations even & odd number of times produced two setups — one which the system regularly went back-and-forth to, regardless of how many operations were administered . Scientists call this an opportunity within the symmetry of time — which is why time crystals are called so. this is often because the operation administered to stimulate the system is usually an equivalent , and yet an equivalent response involves every other shake.
Simply put, the time-crystal state defies the second law of thermodynamics, which essentially defines the direction, that each one natural events eventually take. Several other attempts are made to observe time crystals with varying levels of success, but none are carried-out at scale at which Google attempted — employing a chip with 20 qubits to function as the time crystal.
Google’s experiment at the quantum level highlights the very fact that it’s possible to seem at time crystals for extended , do detailed sets of measurements, vary the dimensions of the system & so on. This demonstration of a quantum machine shows its capability of advancing new scientific discoveries. However, the challenge of decoherence still must be addressed, which causes a decay within the qubits’ quantum states — means time crystals’ oscillations inevitably die out because the environment interferes with the system.
The team believes that effective isolation of the quantum processor could mitigate this problem. Although scientists are yet to seek out a practical use case of time crystals, the research proved that exciting times lie ahead for breakthrough scientific discoveries & quantum computers will have an enormous role to play in them.
The research published on ARXIV.