Showing posts with label Quantum Science. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Quantum Science. Show all posts

Friday, September 30, 2022

New Superconducting Qubit Testbed Benefits Quantum Information Science Development

A superconducting qubit sits in a dilution refrigerator in a Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) physics lab. This experimental device is the first step in establishing a qubit testbed at PNNL.
  Photo Credit: Andrea Starr | Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

If you’ve ever tried to carry on a conversation in a noisy room, you’ll be able to relate to the scientists and engineers trying to “hear” the signals from experimental quantum computing devices called qubits. These basic units of quantum computers are early in their development and remain temperamental, subject to all manner of interference. Stray “noise” can masquerade as a functioning qubit or even render it inoperable.

That’s why physicist Christian Boutan and his Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) colleagues were in celebration mode recently as they showed off PNNL’s first functional superconducting qubit. It’s not much to look at. Its case—the size of a pack of chewing gum--is connected to wires that transmit signals to a nearby panel of custom radiofrequency receivers. But most important, it’s nestled within a shiny gold cocoon called a dilution refrigerator and shielded from stray electrical signals. When the refrigerator is running, it is among the coldest places on Earth, so very close to absolute zero, less than 6 millikelvin (about −460 degrees F).

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Conventional Computers Can Learn to Solve Tricky Quantum Problems

Hsin-Yuan (Robert) Huang
Credit: Caltech

There has been a lot of buzz about quantum computers and for good reason. The futuristic computers are designed to mimic what happens in nature at microscopic scales, which means they have the power to better understand the quantum realm and speed up the discovery of new materials, including pharmaceuticals, environmentally friendly chemicals, and more. However, experts say viable quantum computers are still a decade away or more. What are researchers to do in the meantime?

A new Caltech-led study in the journal Science describes how machine learning tools, run on classical computers, can be used to make predictions about quantum systems and thus help researchers solve some of the trickiest physics and chemistry problems. While this notion has been proposed before, the new report is the first to mathematically prove that the method works in problems that no traditional algorithms could solve.

"Quantum computers are ideal for many types of physics and materials science problems," says lead author Hsin-Yuan (Robert) Huang, a graduate student working with John Preskill, the Richard P. Feynman Professor of Theoretical Physics and the Allen V. C. Davis and Lenabelle Davis Leadership Chair of the Institute for Quantum Science and Technology (IQIM). "But we aren't quite there yet and have been surprised to learn that classical machine learning methods can be used in the meantime. Ultimately, this paper is about showing what humans can learn about the physical world."

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Creating diamonds to shed light on the quantum world

Sandia National Laboratories’ Andy Mounce makes microscopic sensors to try to understand quantum materials at the Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies. He is one of four employees to earn DOE’s Early Career Research Award.
Photo credit: Bret Latter

Diamonds are a scientist’s best friend. That much is at least true for physicist Andy Mounce, whose work with diamond quantum sensors at Sandia National Laboratories has earned him the DOE’s Early Career Research Award.

As a scientist in Sandia’s Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies, he specializes in making microscopic sensors to try to understand the nature of quantum materials and their electrons’ behavior. Mounce is an expert in creating nitrogen-vacancy defects in artificial diamonds, which are extremely sensitive to the electric and magnetic fields at a nanoscale.

“With these quantum sensors we can study basic properties of low dimensional quantum materials, such as superconducting phases, magnetic phases,” he said. “A quantum material can be anything from a nanostructure to a large material that just has electrons that interact with each other very strongly. The distinguishing property of a quantum material, is that their behavior is defined by quantum mechanics, so not your typical copper conductor”.

Saturday, September 17, 2022

The magneto-optic modulator

Electricity flowing through a metal coil generates electric (purple) and magnetic (faint green) fields. This changes the properties of the substrate, which tunes the resonance ring (red) to different frequencies. The whole setup enables the scientists to convert a continuous beam of light (red on left) into pulses that can carry data through a fiber-optic cable. 
Photo Credit: Brian Long

Many state-of-the-art technologies work at incredibly low temperatures. Superconducting microprocessors and quantum computers promise to revolutionize computation, but scientists need to keep them just above absolute zero (-459.67° Fahrenheit) to protect their delicate states. Still, ultra-cold components have to interface with room temperature systems, providing both a challenge and an opportunity for engineers.

An international team of scientists, led by UC Santa Barbara’s Paolo Pintus, has designed a device to help cryogenic computers talk with their fair-weather counterparts. The mechanism uses a magnetic field to convert data from electrical current to pulses of light. The light can then travel via fiber-optic cables, which can transmit more information than regular electrical cables while minimizing the heat that leaks into the cryogenic system. The team’s results appear in the journal Nature Electronics.

The Building Blocks for Exploring New Exotic States of Matter

Using the High Flux Isotope Reactor’s DEMAND instrument, neutron scattering studies identified the crystal & magnetic structure of an intrinsic ferromagnetic topological insulator MnBi8Te13. The last column of inset shows its crystal & magnetic structures
Image credit: Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Topological insulators act as electrical insulators on the inside but conduct electricity along their surfaces. Researchers study some of these insulators’ exotic behavior using an external magnetic field to force the ion spins within a topological insulator to be parallel to each other. This process is known as breaking time-reversal symmetry. Now, a research team has created an intrinsic ferromagnetic topological insulator. This means the time-reversal symmetry is broken without applying a magnetic field. The team employed a combination of synthesis, characterization tools, and theory to confirm the structure and properties of new magnetic topological materials. In the process, they discovered an exotic axion insulator in MnBi8Te13.

Researchers can use magnetic topological materials to realize exotic forms of matter that are not seen in other types of material. Scientists believe that the phenomena these materials exhibit could help advance quantum technology and increase the energy efficiency of future electronic devices. Researchers believe that a topological insulator that is inherently ferromagnetic, rather than gaining its properties by adding small numbers of magnetic atoms, is ideal for studying novel topological behaviors. This is because no external magnetic field is needed to study the material’s properties. It also means the material’s magnetism is more uniformly distributed. However, scientists have previously faced challenges in creating this kind of material. This new material consists of layers of manganese, bismuth, and tellurium atoms. It could provide opportunities for exploring novel phases of matter and developing new technologies. It also helps researchers study basic scientific questions about quantum materials.

Monday, September 12, 2022

Through the quantum looking glass

Green laser light illuminates a metasurface that is a hundred times thinner than paper, that was fabricated at the Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies. CINT is jointly operated by Sandia and Los Alamos national laboratories for the Department of Energy Office of Science.
Photo credit: Craig Fritz

An ultrathin invention could make future computing, sensing and encryption technologies remarkably smaller and more powerful by helping scientists control a strange but useful phenomenon of quantum mechanics, according to new research recently published in the journal Science.

Scientists at Sandia National Laboratories and the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Light have reported on a device that could replace a roomful of equipment to link photons in a bizarre quantum effect called entanglement. This device — a kind of nano-engineered material called a metasurface — paves the way for entangling photons in complex ways that have not been possible with compact technologies.

When scientists say photons are entangled, they mean they are linked in such a way that actions on one affect the other, no matter where or how far apart the photons are in the universe. It is an effect of quantum mechanics, the laws of physics that govern particles and other very tiny things.

Although the phenomenon might seem odd, scientists have harnessed it to process information in new ways. For example, entanglement helps protect delicate quantum information and correct errors in quantum computing, a field that could someday have sweeping impacts in national security, science and finance. Entanglement also enables new, advanced encryption methods for secure communication.

Wednesday, September 7, 2022

New measurements point to silicon as a major contributor to performance limitations in superconducting quantum processors

A superconducting-based quantum processor, composed of several thin film materials deposited on top of a silicon substrate.
Photo credit: Rigetti Computing

Silicon is a material widely used in computing: It is used in computer chips, circuits, displays and other modern computing devices. Silicon is also used as the substrate, or the foundation of quantum computing chips.

Researchers at the Superconducting Quantum Materials and Systems Center, hosted by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, demonstrated that silicon substrates could be detrimental to the performance of quantum processors. SQMS Center scientists have measured silicon’s effect on the lifespan of qubits with parts-per-billion precision. These findings have been published in Physical Review Applied.

New approaches to computing

Calculations once performed on pen and paper have since been handed to computers. Classical computers rely on bits, 1 or 0, which have limitations. Quantum computers offer a new approach to computing that relies on quantum mechanics. These novel devices could perform calculations that would take years or be practically impossible for a classical computer to perform.

Using the power of quantum mechanics, qubits—the basic unit of quantum information held within a quantum computing chip—can be both a 1 and a 0 at the same time. Processing and storing information in qubits is challenging and requires a well-controlled environment. Small environmental disturbances or flaws in the qubit’s materials can destroy the information.

Qubits require near-perfect conditions to maintain the integrity of their quantum state, and certain material properties can decrease the qubit lifespan. This phenomenon, called quantum decoherence, is a critical obstacle to overcome to operate quantum processors.

Sunday, September 4, 2022

Researchers devise tunable conducting edge

In their experiments, the researchers stacked monolayer WTe2 with Cr2Ge2Te6, or
CGT. Credit: Shi lab/UC Riverside

A research team led by a physicist at the University of California, Riverside, has demonstrated a new magnetized state in a monolayer of tungsten ditelluride, or WTe2, a new quantum material. Called a magnetized or ferromagnetic quantum spin Hall insulator, this material of one-atom thickness has an insulating interior but a conducting edge, which has important implications for controlling electron flow in nanodevices.

In a typical conductor, electrical current flows evenly everywhere. Insulators, on the other hand, do not readily conduct electricity. Ordinarily, monolayer WTe2 is a special insulator with a conducting edge; magnetizing bestows upon it more unusual properties.

“We stacked monolayer WTe2 with an insulating ferromagnet of several atomic layer thickness — of Cr2Ge2Te6, or simply CGT — and found that the WTe2 had developed ferromagnetism with a conducting edge,” said Jing Shi, a distinguished professor of physics and astronomy at UCR, who led the study. “The edge flow of the electrons is unidirectional and can be made to switch directions with the use of an external magnetic field.”

Shi explained that when only the edge conducts electricity, the size of the interior of the material is inconsequential, allowing electronic devices that use such materials to be made smaller — indeed, nearly as small as the conducting edge. Because devices using this material would consume less power and dissipate less energy, they could be made more energy efficient. Batteries using this technology, for example, would last longer.

Friday, August 19, 2022

Exploring quantum electron highways with laser light

 The translucent crystal at the center of this illustration is a topological insulator, a quantum material where electrons (white dots) flow freely on its surface but not through its interior. By hitting a TI with powerful pulses of circularly polarized laser light (red spiral), SLAC and Stanford scientists generated harmonics that revealed what happens when the surface switches out of its quantum phase and becomes an ordinary insulator.
Credit: Greg Stewart/SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

Topological insulators, or TIs, have two faces: Electrons flow freely along their surface edges, like cars on a superhighway, but can’t flow through the interior of the material at all. It takes a special set of conditions to create this unique quantum state – part electrical conductor, part insulator – which researchers hope to someday exploit for things like spintronics, quantum computing and quantum sensing. For now, they’re just trying to understand what makes TIs tick.

In the latest advance along those lines, researchers at the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Stanford University systematically probed the “phase transition” in which a TI loses its quantum properties and becomes just another ordinary insulator.

They did this by using spiraling beams of laser light to generate harmonics – much like the vibrations of a plucked guitar string – from the material they were examining. Those harmonics make it easy to distinguish what’s happening in the superhighway layer from what’s happening in the interior and see how one state gradually gives way to the other, they reported in Nature Photonics.

“The harmonics generated by the material amplify the effects we want to measure, making this a very sensitive way to see what’s going on in a TI,” said Christian Heide, a postdoctoral researcher with the Stanford PULSE Institute at SLAC who led the experiments.

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

How water turns into ice — with quantum accuracy

Researchers at Princeton University combined artificial intelligence and quantum mechanics to simulate what happens at the molecular level when water freezes. The result is the most complete simulation yet of the first steps in ice “nucleation,” a process important for climate and weather modeling.  
Video by Pablo Piaggi, Princeton University

A team based at Princeton University has accurately simulated the initial steps of ice formation by applying artificial intelligence (AI) to solving equations that govern the quantum behavior of individual atoms and molecules.

The resulting simulation describes how water molecules transition into solid ice with quantum accuracy. This level of accuracy, once thought unreachable due to the amount of computing power it would require, became possible when the researchers incorporated deep neural networks, a form of artificial intelligence, into their methods. The study was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“In a sense, this is like a dream come true,” said Roberto Car, Princeton’s Ralph W. *31 Dornte Professor in Chemistry, who co-pioneered the approach of simulating molecular behaviors based on the underlying quantum laws more than 35 years ago. “Our hope then was that eventually we would be able to study systems like this one, but it was not possible without further conceptual development, and that development came via a completely different field, that of artificial intelligence and data science.”

The ability to model the initial steps in freezing water, a process called ice nucleation, could improve accuracy of weather and climate modeling as well as other processes like flash-freezing food.

The new approach enables the researchers to track the activity of hundreds of thousands of atoms over time periods that are thousands of times longer, albeit still just fractions of a second, than in early studies.

Car co-invented the approach to using underlying quantum mechanical laws to predict the physical movements of atoms and molecules. Quantum mechanical laws dictate how atoms bind to each other to form molecules, and how molecules join with each other to form everyday objects.

Monday, August 1, 2022

NIST Researchers Develop Miniature Lens for Trapping Atoms

Graphical illustration of light focusing using a planar glass surface studded with millions of nanopillars (referred to as a metalens) forming an optical tweezer. (A) Device cross section depicts plane waves of light that come to a focus through secondary wavelets generated by nanopillars of varying size. (B) The same metalens is used to trap and image single rubidium atoms.
Credit: Sean Kelley/NIST

Atoms are notoriously difficult to control. They zigzag like fireflies, tunnel out of the strongest containers and jitter even at temperatures near absolute zero.

Nonetheless, scientists need to trap and manipulate single atoms in order for quantum devices, such as atomic clocks or quantum computers, to operate properly. If individual atoms can be corralled and controlled in large arrays, they can serve as quantum bits, or qubits — tiny discrete units of information whose state or orientation may eventually be used to carry out calculations at speeds far greater than the fastest supercomputer.

Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), together with collaborators from JILA — a joint institute of the University of Colorado and NIST in Boulder — have for the first time demonstrated that they can trap single atoms using a novel miniaturized version of “optical tweezers” — a system that grabs atoms using a laser beam as chopsticks.

Ordinarily, optical tweezers, which garnered the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics, feature bulky centimeter-size lenses or microscope objectives outside the vacuum holding individual atoms. NIST and JILA have previously used the technique with great success to create an atomic clock.

In the new design, instead of typical lenses, the NIST team used unconventional optics — a square glass wafer about 4 millimeters in length imprinted with millions of pillars only a few hundreds of nanometers (billionths of a meter) in height that collectively act as tiny lenses. These imprinted surfaces, dubbed metasurfaces, focus laser light to trap, manipulate and image individual atoms within a vapor. The metasurfaces can operate in the vacuum where the cloud of trapped atoms is located, unlike ordinary optical tweezers.

Thursday, July 28, 2022

A Nanokelvin Microwave Freezer for Molecules

A close view inside the main vacuum chamber of the NaK molecules experiment. In the middle four high-voltage copper wires are routed to an ultrahigh-vacuum glasscell where the ultracold polar molecules were produced.
Credit: Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics

Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics have developed a novel cooling technique for molecular gases. It makes it possible to cool polar molecules down to a few nanokelvin. The trick used by the team in Garching to overcome this hurdle is based on a rotating microwave field. It helps to stabilize the collisions between the molecules during cooling by means of an energetic shield. In this way, the Max Planck researchers succeeded in cooling a gas of sodium-potassium molecules to 21 billionths of a degree above absolute zero. In doing so, they set a new low-temperature record. In the future, the new technique will allow us to create and explore many forms of quantum matter that have not been experimentally accessible until now.

When a highly diluted gas is cooled to extremely low temperatures, bizarre properties are revealed. Thus, some gases form a so-called Bose-Einstein condensate - a type of matter in which all atoms move in unison. Another example is supersolidity: a state in which matter behaves like a frictionless fluid with a periodic structure. Physicists expect to find particularly diverse and revealing forms of quantum matter when cooling gases consisting of polar molecules. They are characterized by an uneven electrical charge distribution. Unlike free atoms, they can rotate, vibrate and attract or repel each other. However, it is difficult to cool molecular gases to ultra-low temperatures.

A team of researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics in Garching has now found a simple and effective way to overcome this roadblock. It is based on a rotating field of microwaves.

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

100000 and Counting Atomic Modeling Silicon

Jim Chelikowsky and recent Oden Institute PhD graduate, Kai-Hsin Liou, sitting in the Professor's Oden Institute office.
Credit: Oden Institute for Computational Engineering and Sciences

A new record has been set by the Oden Institute’s Center for Computational Materials for calculating the energy distribution function, or “density of states,” for over 100,000 silicon atoms, a first in computational materials science. Calculations of this kind enable greater understanding of both the optical and electronic properties of materials.

Jim Chelikowsky leads the Center for Computational Materials, which set a new standard for the number of atoms that can be modeled. They didn’t just raise the bar though. They smashed it – multiplying the previously held record number by a factor of 10.

Chelikowsky along with Oden Institute PhD graduate, Kai-Hsin Liou and postdoctoral fellow, Mehmet Dogan, led the team behind this significant technical advancement in atomic modeling. Working with silicon atoms, they increased the number that could be modeled simultaneously from around 10,000 to over 100,000.

One mathematical way to approach such complex systems is by describing solutions in sines and cosines. This is useful for crystalline matter because it is periodic and we know that the properties of a little piece of a crystal will inform the whole crystal.

Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Researchers expand understanding of vortex spread in superfluids

An illustration of a vortex tangle.
Credit: Wei Guo/FAMU-FSU College of Engineering

An international team of scientists featuring Florida State University researchers has developed a model that predicts the spread of vortices in so-called superfluids, work that provides new insight into the physics that govern turbulence in quantum fluid systems such as superfluid neutron stars.

In a paper published in Physical Review Letters, the researchers created a model that describes the spread and speed of tornado-like vortex tubes in superfluids. Vortex tubes are a key ingredient of turbulence, which is widely studied in classical physics. The motion of vortex tubes is relevant in a wide range of scenarios, such as the formation of hurricanes, the airborne transmission of viruses and the chemical mixing in star formation. But it is poorly understood in quantum fluids.

This work expands on a previous study that reported experimental results obtained in superfluid helium-4 within a narrow temperature range. Superfluids are liquids that can flow without resistance, and therefore without a loss of kinetic energy. When they are stirred, they form vortices that rotate indefinitely.

“By validating this model and showing that it describes the movement of vortices at a wide range of temperatures, we are confirming a universal rule for this phenomenon,” said Wei Guo, an associate professor of mechanical engineering at the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering. “This discovery may aid the development of advanced theoretical models of quantum fluid turbulence.”

Monday, June 20, 2022

New imaging technique to find out what happens in the brains of dogs and cats

In a preliminary experiment, Parkkonen held a quantum optical MEG sensor with his hand on his family cat’s, Roosa’s, head while she listened to simple sound sequences.
Credit: Professor Lauri Parkkonen / Aalto University

For years, Professor Lauri Parkkonen's team at Aalto University has been developing quantum optical sensors for measuring the brain's magnetic fields using a technique known as magnetoencephalography (MEG). In traditional MEG, the superconducting sensors operate at very low temperatures and need centimeters of thermal insulation, but the quantum optical sensors work at room temperature, so they can be placed directly on the surface of the head. This allows more accurate measurements of the brain’s magnetic fields.

Parkkonen and his team plan to use the new method to build on their earlier work measuring brain activity in cats and dogs. Now they plan to characterize the complexity of the temporal structures in sensory stimuli that cat and dog brains can track. Similar experiments in humans have found that our brain produces specific responses to deviations in complex structures only when we attend to the stimuli and become aware of the deviations. Once the technique is perfected, Parkkonen and his team plan to use it to make similar measurements in human babies.

The experiments will begin this autumn – though Parkkonen has already done some preliminary tests with his family cat, Roosa – and the project is expected to continue until 2026. The researchers hope that their findings will provide an unprecedented window onto the cognition of cats and dogs, and this could also help bridge the gap between our understanding of human brains and the brains of other mammals.

Friday, June 17, 2022

Rice lab’s quantum simulator delivers new insight

Rice physicists used ultracold atoms and a 1D channel of light to simulate electrons in 1D wires and study how two of their intrinsic properties — spin and charge — travel at different speeds. They used a laser beam (top left) to produce collective waves that rippled left to right along the wire over time (top to bottom), transporting either spin or charge. A spin wave is illustrated. Spins must point up (blue) or down (red), and atoms with opposite spin naturally arrange in an alternating up-down, up-down pattern (top row). The wave transports spin by sequentially exchanging adjacent up/down spins (shaded ovals). Researchers measured the speed of both spin waves and charge waves (not shown), demonstrating the two traveled at different speeds.
Illustration by Ella Maru Studio, provided courtesy of R. Hulet/Rice University

A quantum simulator at Rice University is giving physicists a clear look at spin-charge separation, the quantum world’s version of the magician’s illusion of sawing a person in half.

Published this week in Science, the research has implications for quantum computing and electronics with atom-scale wires.

Electrons are minuscule, subatomic particles that cannot be divided. Despite this, quantum mechanics dictates that two of their attributes — spin and charge — travel at different speeds in one-dimensional wires.

Rice physicists Randy Hulet, Ruwan Senaratne and Danyel Cavazos built an ultracold venue where they could repeatedly view and photograph a pristine version of this quantum spectacle, and they collaborated with theorists from Rice, China, Australia and Italy on the published results.

Thursday, June 16, 2022

Glimpses of Quantum Computing Phase Changes Show Researchers the Tipping Point

Tuning a quantum computer’s measurement rate provides hints of quantum phase transition

Researchers at Duke University and the University of Maryland have used the frequency of measurements on a quantum computer to get a glimpse into the quantum phenomena of phase changes – something analogous to water turning to steam.

By measuring the number of operations that can be implemented on a quantum computing system without triggering the collapse of its quantum state, the researchers gained insight into how other systems — both natural and computational — meet their tipping points between phases. The results also provide guidance for computer scientists working to implement quantum error correction that will eventually enable quantum computers to achieve their full potential.

The results appeared online in the journal Nature Physics.

When heating water to a boil, the movement of molecules evolves as the temperature changes until it hits a critical point when it starts to turn to steam. In a similar fashion, a quantum computing system can be increasingly manipulated in discrete time steps until its quantum state collapses into a single solution.

“There are deep connections between phases of matter and quantum theory, which is what’s so fascinating about it,” said Crystal Noel, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering and physics at Duke. “The quantum computing system is behaving in the same way as quantum systems found in nature — like liquid changing to steam — even though it’s digital.”

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Photon twins of unequal origin

The quantum dots of the Basel researchers are different, but send out exactly identical light particles.
Credit: University of Basel, Department of Physics

Researchers have created identical light particles with different quantum dots - an important step for applications such as tap-proof communication.

Many technologies that take advantage of quantum effects are based on exactly the same photons. However, it is extremely difficult to manufacture them. Not only must the wavelength (color) of the photons exactly match, but also their shape and polarization.

A team of researchers from the University of Basel around Richard Warburton, in collaboration with colleagues from the Ruhr University in Bochum, has now succeeded in producing identical photons that come from different, widely separated sources.

Individual photons from quantum dots

In their experiments, physicists use so-called quantum dots, i.e. structures a few nanometers in semiconductor materials. Electrons are trapped in these quantum dots, which only assume very specific energy levels and can emit light when moving from one level to another. With the help of a laser pulse that triggers such a transition, individual photons can be produced at the push of a button.

Friday, June 10, 2022

Perpetual motion is possible

Researchers cooled a helium-3 superfluid down to one ten-thousandth of a degree from absolute zero and proceeded to create two time-crystals inside the liquid.
Credit: Mikko Raskinen / Aalto University.

Professor and Nobel laureate in Physics Frank Wilczek, who also recently visited Aalto University to speak at a colloquium of Finland’s foremost quantum community InstituteQ, theorised the existence of time-crystals in 2012. They were experimentally confirmed to exist in 2016.

Now researchers have succeeded in creating and observing the interaction of two time-crystals in an experiment at Aalto University’s Low Temperature Lab.

The study was recently published in Nature Communications.

In an ordinary crystal the atoms or molecules comprising it have organized themselves into a regular crystal structure. Conversely, a time-crystal is a grouping of particles that moves without external energy, always returning to the same state in certain intervals. That means its regularity is expressed in time rather than in space.

‘Everyone knows perpetual motion machines are impossible. However, in quantum physics perpetual motion itself is possible as long as it’s not observed. By weakly connecting the particles to their environment, we were able to create up to two time-crystals and make them interact,’ says Samuli Autti, researcher at Lancaster University who carried out the experiment at Aalto.

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Evasive quantum phenomenon makes debut in routine tabletop experiment

Researchers recently confirmed the presence of the axial Higgs mode, a particle excitation depicted here as a golden sphere. They used Raman spectroscopy, in which an incoming electric field, shown in blue, was coupled with the particle and subsequently scattered into a different frequency, shown in red.
 Credit: Ioannis Petrides and Prineha Narang/Harvard University

A Quantum Science Center-supported team has captured the first-ever appearance of a previously undetectable quantum excitation known as the axial Higgs mode.

This mode manifests as a low-energy excitation in rare-earth tellurides, a class of quantum materials notable for exhibiting charge density wave, or CDW, interactions. This behavior refers to arrangements of interacting electrons in quantum materials that form specific patterns and correlations.

Unlike the regular Higgs mode, which is produced by a Higgs mechanism that provides mass to fundamental particles in the Standard Model of Particle Physics, the axial Higgs mode is visible at room temperature. This characteristic enables more efficient and cost-effective experiments for manipulating quantum materials for various applications – including next-generation memory storage and opto-electronic devices – which would otherwise require extremely cold temperatures.

The team responsible for these results, which are published in Nature, was led by researchers at Boston College and includes scientists from Harvard University, Princeton University, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Yale University, University of Washington and the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

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