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Che cos'è il cristallo del tempo e perché ossessiona gli scienziati

Time crystal, what it is and what we know

There is a crystal that haunts the scientific community. its name, time crystal or time crystalIt brings to mind sci-fi plots and enchanted adventures. Indeed, the implications of studying this type of crystal (actually: more crystals) could have major implications for humanity, calling into question some principles of physics.

Why is it being discussed now? Because two have recently been linked, and their union can reveal enormous mysteries. But let’s go in order and try to understand, step by step, why these crystals have almost magical power.

Time crystals and their discovery

Once there was an assumption that crystals, in nature, showing asymmetry in their composition, nevertheless respect thermal equilibrium. When observing most of them, in fact, it can be seen that the crystallization was caused by a discontinuity, but at the same time the equilibrium was re-established by replacing the higher energy with the lower energy. Complex? Maybe a little, so you have to go back and remember a file The second law of thermodynamicswhere all systems tend to thermal equilibrium and thus to less useful and more random states.

Having said that, to understand how long it takes for crystals to take, we need to look at 2012, when the prize will be awarded Nobel Frank Wilczek He postulated the existence of some crystals in which there is no substitution: simply, the particles are in constant, repetitive motion. The crystal system is ordered, not chaotic, and does not lose energy, because it does not contain any energy: while the atoms in ordinary crystals are, in fact, periodically arranged in space, the atoms of a time crystal are arranged periodically in both space and time.

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Franzc Wilczyk’s studies and hypotheses have found confirmation and corroboration: Xiang Zhang, a nanoengineer at Berkeley University, has created one in the form of a ring of charged ions in continuous rotation. However, physicists Valery Kosin and Alexander Kirienko have, in theory, demonstrated a time crystal Can resist entropy. Finally, in 2021 Google analyzed a time crystalindicating that due to the entropy resistance, the particles of a time crystal can move precisely for eternity, in perpetual motion.

Chaos resistance is a new phase of matter

The realization of the existence of a time crystal has distinguished and represents a new stage of matter and its study. The magic of these crystals lies in their crystals Evading the second law of thermodynamics, which is one of the most basic and “armored” assumptions in physics. The avoidance lies in the fact that, for this law, entropy (that is, disorder within the system) is destined to increase: if you want the system, you need to use energy.

But in time crystals, order is the norm. This chaos resistance makes these crystals gods Macroscopic quantum systems which do not change their state, they periodically remain the same while on the move. And what are the repercussions? They are huge, because these crystals are not only created and observed, but can be used to fulfill one of the dreams of the most advanced scientists: Quantum computer.

The union of time crystals and a quantum computer

As we mentioned in the beginning, we are back to talking about time crystals because recently two have been linked. led the physics experiment Samuli Autti from Lancaster University. After forming crystals from scratch, he made them touch and watched the particle exchange. An exchange that affected the orderly pattern of both crystals, without making a mess. On the contrary, a one system Able to work with each other two distinct cases.

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This lays the foundation for future technologies: quantum computercapable of processing More complex information More than we can assume thanks to qubits (quantum qubits) seems, in fact, a viable and tangible future option. Now is the time for the following studies and advances in technology to give humanity the opportunity to achieve this amazing feat.