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Scientists create new form of matter, a time crystal

Scientists create new form of matter, a time crystal

Date:
March 8, 2017
Source:
University of Texas at Austin
Summary:
Scientists are reporting on the creation of a phase of matter, dubbed a time crystal, in which atoms move in a pattern that repeats in time rather than in space.


FULL STORY

Researchers have created the world's first time crystal, an exotic state of matter that combines the rigidity of an ordinary crystal with a regular rhythm in time.
Credit: E. Edwards/JQI

Salt, snowflakes and diamonds are all crystals, meaning their atoms are arranged in 3-D patterns that repeat. Today scientists are reporting in the journal Nature on the creation of a phase of matter, dubbed a time crystal, in which atoms move in a pattern that repeats in time rather than in space.

The atoms in a time crystal never settle down into what's known as thermal equilibrium, a state in which they all have the same amount of heat. It's one of the first examples of a broad new class of matter, called nonequilibrium phases, that have been predicted but until now have remained out of reach. Like explorers stepping onto an uncharted continent, physicists are eager to explore this exotic new realm.

"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 at Austin. "We've taken these theoretical ideas that we've been poking around for the last couple of years and actually built it in the laboratory. Hopefully, this is just the first example of these, with many more to come."

Some of these nonequilibrium phases of matter may prove useful for storing or transferring information in quantum computers.

READ MORE:
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/03/170308131228.htm

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