University of Maryland (UMD) researchers say they have created the world's first time crystal, which could lead to quantum memory systems.
The researchers focused on quantum systems that are not in equilibrium, specifically a line of ytterbium ions with spins that interact with each other. They say the spin of the ions can be flipped up or down using a laser, so flipping the spin of one ion causes the next to flip, and so on. These spins oscillate at a rate that depends on how regularly the laser flips the original spin, which means the driving frequency determines the rate of oscillation.
However, the researchers also found after allowing the system to evolve, the interactions occurred at a rate that was twice the original period, which can only be explained by the time symmetry being broken, thereby enabling these longer periods.
The researchers then measured some of the properties of the resulting time crystals. For example, they found changing the driving frequency did not change the frequency of the time crystal.
UMD professor Chris Monroe says these time crystals could be used for quantum information tasks, such as implementing a robust quantum memory.
From Technology Review
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