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Stanford and Google Team Up with Quantum Computers

There is a massive international effort underway to develop a computer that can use Quantum physics to do computations of unparalleled complexity. While there are still significant technological barriers to overcome in order to build such a Quantum computer, today’s early prototypes are capable of incredible feats. For instance, consider the formation of a new phase of matter known as a “time crystal.”

A time crystal, like a crystal’s structure in space, repeats in time and, more crucially, does so eternally and without any further energy input – similar to a clock that runs forever without batteries. The desire to understand this phase of matter has been a long-standing struggle in theory and experiment, and it has now finally been realised.

The team’s achievement excites them not just because it creates a new phase of matter, but also because it opens up new regimes in their discipline of condensed matter physics, which examines unexpected events and features caused by the collective interactions of numerous particles in a system. “Time-crystals are a stunning example of a novel sort of non-equilibrium Quantum phase of matter,” said Vedika Khemani, a senior author of the paper and an assistant professor of physics at Stanford.

While much of our knowledge of condensed matter physics is based on equilibrium systems, these new Quantum gadgets provide us with a tantalising insight into new non-equilibrium regimes in many-body physics. The following are the basic elements for making this time crystal: Something to give it a kick and the physics equivalent of a fruit fly. The Ising model, often known as the fruit fly of physics, is a long-standing tool for studying many physical processes such as phase transitions and magnetism.

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