By Scott Hamilton
Senior Expert Emerging Technologies
Researchers at Google, in collaboration with physicists from Stanford, Princeton and other universities, used their quantum computer to demonstrate the existence of “time crystals.” Meanwhile a group of professors led by Dr. Randall at Cornell University made claims to have created a time crystal within a diamond structure.
This is an exciting time for physicists, as time crystals seem to break the laws of physics and allow for perpetual motion. Physicists have strived for many years to create or discover time crystals due to their unique properties. Quartz is close as it takes a very small amount of energy to create a constant vibration in a Quartz crystal. They are commonly used in watches to keep accurate time for several years, consuming minimal power. However, time crystals can provide oscillations in the same manner without consuming any energy.
A time crystal is able to move parts in a regular, repeating cycle, sustaining a constant change without burning any energy. Ricard Moessner, director of the Max Planck Institute for the Physics of Complex Systems in Dresden, Germany, claims, “The consequence is amazing: You evade the second law of thermodynamics.” The law states that disorder always increases, which is the main reason for energy loss in state transitions and motion.
Time crystals break another law of physics at the same time, the law of “time-translation symmetry,” which states that stable objects will remain the same throughout time. A time crystal is both stable and ever-changing, with periodic intervals of time.
Time crystals exist in a new category of the phases of matter, expanding the definition of a phase. Normally the phases of matter are in thermal equilibrium, settling their atoms into the lowest energy state allowed by the ambient temperature. Their properties do not change with time, only with temperature or pressure changes. Time crystals are the first particles discovered that exist “out-of-equilibrium,” having perfect stability but shifting between phases on a constant cycle.
Vedika Khemani, condensed matter physicist at Stanford, says, “This is just this completely new and exciting space that we’re working in now.” Researchers have raced over the last five years to create a time crystal, but previous attempts have fallen short of proving the existence. Through the simulation of the time crystal, it led to the proper methods to create the material that nature itself probably never creates, given the complexity of delicate ingredients. The imagination of scientists combined with the raw computing power of quantum computers conjured the recipe that breaks some of the oldest laws of physics through the use of some of nature’s more baffling laws.
To find out more about time crystals and the exciting research that could bring about an unending source of energy, have a look at https://www.quantamagazine.org/first-time-crystal-built-using-googles-quantum-computer-20210730/.
Until next week, stay safe and learn something new.
Scott Hamilton is a Senior Expert in Emerging Technologies at ATOS and can be reached with questions and comments via email to firstname.lastname@example.org or through his website at https://www.techshepherd.org.