[Time Crystals] Google Found a New State of Matter

Time Crystals

Time Crystals sounds like Sci-fi to Time Travel in Past, Present and Future. You might have seen them in movies such as Doctor Who, 12 monkeys and surely in Thanos’s Infinity Stones.

Google found Time Crystal in real life from Quantum Computers when their research teams were doing experiments on Quantum Qubits (Chips).

Click here to know : How Quantum Computer works?

What is a Crystal

Crystals are the solid particles whose constituents like atoms, molecules and ions are in specific order forming Crystal Lattice.

Diamond and Piece of ice are simple examples of crystals. 

If you see a simple 3D piece of ice then you will find that its atomic structure is repeating a special pattern in space but time does not affect its pattern.

It means that if you see a diamond now and again after a while then there will be no change.

What are Time crystals

Time Crystals are actually a new state of matter which repeats itself in space and time.

You probably have seen ordinary crystals. They are beautiful and they are not just beautiful to see, their beauty goes all the way down to the molecular level where individual atoms in vast lattices repeat in space.

Time Crystals are formed when configurations of matter repeat themselves periodically (pattern of Time).

Now you have to be careful, as a planet orbiting the sun finds itself in the same place over and over again. That’s not a Time Crystals.

Time Crystals occur when a bunch of adjacent atoms repeat their configuration over and over again.

History of Time Crystals

Time Crystal was first proposed theoretically by Frank Anthony Wilczek in 2012 of MIT described them in an article called “Quantum Time Crystals”. He won Nobel-Prize for the discovery of “the theory of strong interaction”.

It was proposed as a result of a weird idea that a matter could repeat itself in time. As we see the normal crystals in constant shape and size but when it is a time crystal then it will also change in time.

At the atomic level, ordinary matter looks pretty much the same, no matter how many times You look at it. This is known as having translational time symmetry.

Wilczek proposed a new type of matter that changes when you look at it over time. When you look at it in one moment then you will see one thing but when you look at it a different time then you will see another thing.

Here’s the keypoint, if you look at it in a fixed time interval then it would always look the same.  

Wilczek imagined that these crystals would be perpetual motion machines cyclically repeating their structure forever.

Response to Wilczek

In response to Wilczek, Physicists Patrick Bruno (from France) and Masaki Oshikawa (from Tokyo) independently published papers that said that time crystals could exist if the system was not in thermal equilibrium, which is a fancy way of saying that time crystals can exist only if the energy of the system changes.

In 2017, Physicist Norman Yao and his collaborators published a paper called “Discrete Time Crystals : Rigidity, Criticality and Realizations ”, which described how to make a time crystal. And then the challenge was on.

How Time Crystal discovered

Since then two groups, one at Harvard and one at the university of Maryland have made time crystals by performing experiments on Google’s Quantum Computer. 

Crystals vs Time Crystals

As Ordinary Crystals are made by repeating same type of atoms over and over in 3D (3 Dimension) i.e. Length, Breadth & Depth.

However, Time Crystals repeat atoms but they also repeat in time i.e. 4D. It means Time Crystals repeat both in Space and Time.

What do Time Crystals look like

Suppose you have a string of a string of atoms arranged like on a pearl necklace. Each atom has a spin associated with it and these arrows represent the spin axis. 

In matters, at a low enough temperature that the atoms aren’t jiggling too much, the spin of the atom tends to line up with one another, either pointing in the same direction or the opposite one another. They do this because it’s the lowest energy way they can arrange themselves. 

If the arrows or spins are pointing in different directions, this is a higher energy configuration and well the universe doesn’t perform like that.

Now, you hit the string of atoms with a laser. A laser is nothing more than an oscillating electromagnetic field and that field forces the spins of the atoms to flip rhythmically with the laser.

What happens if you turn off the laser?

The spins continue to flip, even though they aren’t being forced by the laser.

You can use a more complicated laser to irradiate the string of atoms with a random electromagnetic field and the atoms continue to oscillate the way they did when the regular laser hit them.

What’s the Problem

As it travels continuously without using external forces which violates Second Law of Thermodynamics “Hot things always cool unless you do something to stop them”. It means that disorder in the universe known as entropy always increases. This is the main reason why hot things always become cool. 

Time Crystals Uses & Applications

Future Uses & Applications of Time Crystals are :

  • Infinite Power Source :- As it is in continuous form and it will not stop so it can produce infinite power source if we invent a machine which could harvest its power.
  • Perpetual Spaceships :- We can build it by giving perpetual motion in the space ships which will give infinite power source and that will make our spaceship reach at the speed of light. As we travel at the speed of light, we will be time travelling in the future. 
  • Time Travel :- It could one day be possible that we will do time travel with the help of time crystals by using it to move in time through perpetual spaceships.
  • Accuracy in Atomic Clock & Magnetometers :-  Through time crystals, we can keep precise values of atomic clocks which will make the calculation of time more accurate than now. Due to this we will be able to find accurate places\ where the minerals like gold and silver are located by using Magnetometers which will make mineral extraction more easy and comfortable.
  • Super Conductor Memory for Quantum Computers :-  Time Crystals might be the future technology for storage of data by its repeating character in time which would be beneficial to make a Super Conductor Memory for Quantum Computers. 

Conclusion :

Google discovered Time Crystals which gave us a hint that It’s possible to do Time Travel by using Time Crystals one day in the future. 

We will make it possible by using perpetual spaceships which would run on an infinite power source called Time Crystals to achieve Speed of Light. 

When travelling at the speed of light, we will feel less time compared to the earth which will make us travel to the future and We can make it possible through “Time Crystals”.

Click here to know: Is it possible to travel faster than light?

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