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Scientists Create 'Time Crystals,' A New Form Of Matter

9 March 2017, 6:04 am EST By Amy Gordon Tech Times
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A new wonder element has been added to the list of scientific inventions. Scientists have successfully invented the time crystals for the first time and it could be considered a historical achievement.

What Is A Time Crystal?

Salt, snowflakes, and diamonds, all are generally known as crystals and they have an atomic structure that follow a 3-D pattern which repeats in space.

However, in a new discovery, there are certain crystals whose atomic and molecular motion follows a pattern that repeats in time rather than in space. These crystals are called time crystals.

This phenomenon suggests that the movement of the time crystals should remain uninterrupted even without any external factors.

The time crystals have thermal equilibrium, which means the atoms of these crystals never stops in a state where they all share the same amount of heat.

This is one of the first cases of a vast range of matter, known as non-equilibrium phases, which have been suggested before but could not be produced in reality.

Nobel laureate, Frank Wilczek first mentioned about the existence of these crystals in 2012. However, it was only in 2016 that theoretical physicists at Princeton University and UC Santa Barbara's Station Q confirmed the possibility of creating this particular type of crystal.

Creation Of The First Time Crystal

With the help of Norman Yao, who was one of the scientists to have published a paper on time crystals, and under his supervision two teams of researchers collaborated to create the such crystal by using two different methods.

One of the teams, managed by Maryland University used electrically charged atoms of the element ytterbium to form the first time crystal. Whereas, the Harvard team, led by Mikhail Lukin, made another time crystal with the help of vacancy of the compact nitrogen found in diamonds.

Both the teams have published their results along with the co-author Yao's write-up for both papers.

Application Of Time Crystals

The unique and special properties possessed by these crystals may in the future assist in designing quantum computers. These computers exist even today but they require proper shielding to protect itself from outside interference.

However, if the time crystal technology is perfected then, it may be possible to completely replace the current computer technologies with quantum machines which are known to be millions of times faster than ordinary computers.

"This opens the door to a whole new world of nonequilibrium phases," says Andrew Potter, an assistant professor of physics at The University of Texas.

He also added that this is the creation of the theoretical research that had been conducted in the last few years and this is probably just the first among many more results which may be on their way.

The research was published in the journal, Nature.

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