In a remarkable scientific breakthrough, researchers from TU Dortmund University in Germany have developed a semiconductor composed of indium gallium arsenide, shattering previous records for the duration of time crystal oscillations. This new material exhibited continuous time crystal behavior for at least 40 minutes, a significant leap from the previous instances that lasted only milliseconds.
Time crystals, a concept first hypothesized by physicist Frank Wilczek over a decade ago, are unique structures that repeat or oscillate over time, akin to how regular crystals feature repetitive atomic patterns in space. Unlike conventional oscillating systems that require an external force to maintain their motion and eventually come to a stop, time crystals exhibit a persistent, intrinsic beat or rhythm, even without continuous external input.
The groundbreaking time crystal created by the team demonstrates a continuous oscillation of states between the electrons and the atomic nuclei within the semiconductor. This oscillation is maintained and adjusted through external factors like light sources, magnetic fields, or temperature changes. This allows the time crystal’s rhythm to be finely tuned from a few seconds to nearly a minute.
What sets this discovery apart is the durability and stability of the time crystal’s oscillations, which showed no signs of decay even after 40 minutes of observation, suggesting that they could potentially last much longer. This breakthrough not only deepens our understanding of time crystals and their properties but also paves the way for innovative applications in precision measurement devices and possibly in the field of quantum computing. The research, published in Nature Physics, marks a significant milestone in the exploration of time crystals, offering a glimpse into the potential of these fascinating structures in various technological advancements.