In a delicate balance between strong interactions, weak disorder, and a periodic driving force, a collection of trapped ions qubits has been made to pulsate with a period that is relatively insensitive to the drive. This is a time crystal, where the stable pulses emerge and break time symmetry – just like a freezing liquid breaks spatial symmetry and forms a spatial crystal. Trapped ion qubits can pulsate on their own with excellent passive stability, but this observation may guide the stabilization of complex solid-state systems, where true quantum behavior is usually masked by defects and impurities.
- “Observation of a Discrete Time Crystal,” J. Zhang, P. W. Hess, A. Kyprianidis, P. Becker, A. Lee, J. Smith, G. Pagano, I.-D. Potirniche, A. C. Potter, A. Vishwanath, N. Y. Yao, C. Monroe, Nature 543, 217 (2017).
- Nature news article on time crystals
- JQI News Release