Google's Quantum Computer Supposedly Just Made A Time Crystal


According to recently published research, Google's quantum computer was used to create a "time crystal," a novel phase of matter that defies the fundamental rules of thermodynamics. Contrary to what the name might imply, the new development will not enable Google to create a time machine.

In 2012, the concept of time crystals—systems that perpetually deviate from equilibrium—was first put forth. Time crystals are stable, yet the atoms that make them up are constantly evolving, in contrast to other phases of matter that are in thermal equilibrium.


Scientists have differed on whether such a thing was truly feasible in reality, but that has been the hypothesis at least. With examples of some that partially - but not entirely - fit all the pertinent conditions, various levels of time crystals that might or could not be formed have been discussed. In a recent research preprint, physicists from Stanford, Princeton, and other universities make the assertion that Google's quantum computer project has accomplished what many thought was impossible. Preprints are early copies of academic publications that are released before peer review and full publication; as a result, their conclusions may be contested or even fully disproved at that time.


Our research uses a time-reversal technique to distinguish between internal thermalization and external decoherence, and it makes use of quantum typicality to avoid the exponential cost of intensively sampling the eigenspectrum. "In addition, using an experimental finite-size analysis, we pinpoint the phase change away from the DTC. These findings lay the groundwork for a scaleable method to investigate non-equilibrium phases of matter on modern quantum processors.


If that completely escaped your understanding, you're probably not the only one. According to Quanta Magazine, the time crystal essentially consists of three fundamental components. A row of magnetically oriented particles is first locked into a combination of low- and high-energy configurations. An example of a "many-body localization" is that.


Eigenstate order is the process of flipping each of those particles' orientations, effectively producing a mirror image. It resembles a secondary many-body localised state in reality.


Laser light application is the last step. As a result, the states cycle from normal to mirrored and back again, although this does not really consume any of the laser's net energy. A Floquet time crystal, first proposed in 2016, is the result.


Sycamore, Google's quantum computer, was able to employ a device with 20 of its controlled quantum particles, or qubits, each of which can hold two states concurrently. The researchers were able to randomise the interactions and accomplish many-body localization by adjusting the strength of the interactions between the individual quibits. The particles were subsequently turned over by microwaves into their mirror configuration, but without the spin change consuming any of the laser's own energy.


It's unclear how exactly that affects theoretical studies and potential time crystal applications. The researchers' key conclusion at this time is that there is "a scalable approach to study non-equilibrium phases of matter using present quantum processors"; to put it another way, it shows that quantum computers could at least be useful for some tasks.


Finding a use for quantum computers and the voluminous amount of theory that surrounds them has proven to be a challenge for businesses researching the technology. Google made some bold claims earlier this year about what its quantum project could accomplish, pointing to prospective consequences from such research as better batteries, more potent medications and vaccinations, and more potent fertilisers. The company claims to be working on a 1,000,000 physical qubit quantum computer as part of that, while it acknowledged it would take years to even grasp how that would be built.

Reference: arxiv

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