Researchers have achieved a groundbreaking milestone in the field of quantum physics by extending the lifespan of time crystals. This achievement validates a theoretical concept proposed by Nobel Prize laureate Frank Wilczek and marks a significant advancement in our understanding of quantum phenomena.
A team from TU Dortmund University successfully created a highly durable time crystal, demonstrating a phenomenon that Wilczek postulated about ten years ago. Time crystals, which are analogous to spatial crystals, involve periodic arrangements of atoms over extended lengths in time rather than space.
In 2012, Frank Wilczek proposed the existence of time crystals, suggesting that a physical property of these crystals would spontaneously change periodically in time. This concept adds a fascinating dimension to our understanding of the relationship between space and time in the realm of quantum physics.
Previous experiments with time crystals had limited lifespans, but the recent achievement by the Dortmund physicists has resulted in a time crystal that outlives previous demonstrations by millions of times. The findings have been published in the journal Nature Physics.
The key to this breakthrough lies in the design of a special crystal made of indium gallium arsenide. In this crystal, nuclear spins act as a reservoir for the time crystal. The crystal is continuously illuminated, leading to the formation of nuclear spin polarization through interaction with electron spins. This nuclear spin polarization then spontaneously generates oscillations, creating a time crystal.
The remarkable aspect of this experiment is the extended lifespan of the time crystal, which now lasts at least 40 minutes. This duration is ten million times longer than previous demonstrations, and there is potential for even longer lifespans in future experiments.
The researchers also discovered that they could vary the crystal’s period over wide ranges by systematically changing experimental conditions. Additionally, they explored areas where the crystal loses its periodicity, leading to chaotic behavior that can be maintained over extended periods. This marks the first time scientists have used theoretical tools to analyze the chaotic behavior of such systems.
In summary, the achievement by TU Dortmund University provides valuable insights into the behavior and potential applications of time crystals, opening new avenues for exploration in quantum physics.