Physical Time Crystals A Possibility?

Time crystals have been speculated to exist since Nobel Laureate Frank Wilczek first proposed them back in 2012. Before that time, crystals have been known more to be in the realm of fiction. Physicists have wondered about its existence or non-existence since Wilczek proposed its possibility.

Now though there are physicists from the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) and Microsoft Station Q that have shown that time crystals just might have a possibility of existing physically, as Next Big Future reports.

One aspect for time crystals that make it not possible is that it exhibits periodic motion even at its ground state, or the state where it has its lowest energy. At the ground, state objects shouldn't have the energy to move at all, yet Wilczek says that time crystals could move in a circular orbit at its ground state.

For time crystals, the physicists have focused on an aspect called time-translation symmetry. They say that time crystals spontaneously break this symmetry. This is different from explicit symmetry breaking, wherein the laws of nature don't have symmetry anymore. In spontaneous symmetry breaking the laws of nature still has its symmetry, but nature could choose a state where there isn't.

Spontaneous time-breaking symmetry is said to have not yet been observed, though other forms of spontaneous breaking symmetry have been seen such as that in magnets. Performing an experiment using time crystals could be possible, researchers say by using a large system of trapped atoms, trapped ions or else qubits to create a time crystal.

The time crystal created could then have the characteristic of what it should be with its periodic, oscillating motion, Phys Org says. Persistent oscillations could be observed then.

"In collaboration with experimental research groups, we are exploring the possibility of realizing Floquet time crystals in systems of cold atomic gases," Chetan Nayak, co-author of the study and part of Microsoft Station Q and UCSB said.

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