Time crystals offer a new avenue for room-temperature quantum computing


Technology Innovation Website Editor – 06/14/2022

The researchers cooled superfluid helium-3 to nearly absolute zero in this cryogenic chamber, where two time crystals were formed and placed in contact with each other.
[Imagem: Aalto University/Mikko Raskinen]

time crystals

Physicists have for the first time created a system of time crystals interacting with each other, in an experiment that appears to bend the laws of physics.

Time crystals were once considered impossible because they are made of atoms in endless motion.

Unlike an ordinary crystal – such as minerals or rocks – which consists of atoms arranged in a pattern that repeats itself regularly in space, time crystals have the peculiar property of, without any external input of energy, being in constant repetitive motion. That is, the structure of a time crystal repeats itself in time and not in space – its atoms are constantly oscillating, rotating or moving first in one direction and then in the other.

“Everyone knows that perpetual motion machines are impossible. However, in quantum physics, perpetual motion is fine, at least as long as we close our eyes. By slipping through that crack, we can build time crystals,” said Samuli Otti of Lancaster University. in the UK.

The term “keep your eyes closed” refers to the well-known Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, which states that you cannot know the position and velocity of a particle with complete accuracy, and the more you know about it, the less you know about it. The other – it follows that as long as you don’t measure the quantum system, things like multiple locations and multiple states can coexist peacefully.

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It turns out, for this, that a quantum system needs to be completely isolated from its environment. At least, that’s what was thought until now, that Otti and his colleagues were able to make crystals not single, but dual-time, and have them interact with each other.

Time crystals offer a new avenue for computing

Schematic diagram of the experiment (left) and the interaction of time crystals (right).
[Imagem: S. Autti et al. – 10.1038/s41467-022-30783-w]

Quantum computer at room temperature

The team began by cooling helium-3 to nearly ten thousand degrees above absolute zero (0.0001 K or -273.15 degrees Celsius), then made two time crystals inside this superfluid. Then they connected them to each other and were able to observe their interaction as described in quantum physics.

“In our experiments, two conjugated time crystals, consisting of spin-wave quasiparticles (Magnons), form a two-level macroscopic system. In-plane dynamics,” the team explained.

This opens up a lot of possibilities because the “two-tiered system” is a basic building block for a quantum processor.

This means that time crystals can be used to build quantum computers that operate at room temperature, since time crystals have already been demonstrated outside of a controlled “quantum environment.”

“Our work opens a perspective for the discovery of surface Majorana particles in the underlying superfluid system, and invites technological exploration of coherent magnon phenomena – potentially even at room temperature. We have demonstrated that magnon temporal crystals allow access to all aspects and details of coherent quantum interactions in a single round of Experience “.

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