Physicists created an odd phase of matter with two dimensions of time

Cal Jeffrey

Posts: 3,573   +1,075
Staff member
Through the looking glass: The world of quantum physics and quantum computing is challenging for most people to wrap their heads around. I have read a fair number of books on the subjects, but the research I'm about to report has my head spinning. Somehow, scientists have created a new phase of matter with two-dimensional time.

Scientists at the Flatiron Institute's Center for Computational Quantum Physics in New York City have created a new, never-before-seen phase of matter. The peculiarity of it is that the atoms have two dimensions of time even though they exist in our singular flow of time. The team published their study in Nature on July 20.

The physicists created this odd phase of matter by firing a laser with a pulse based on the Fibonacci sequence at atoms used inside a quantum computer. They contend that this could be a breakthrough in quantum computing because it can protect stored information from the errors that occur in current methods of quantum storage. Data degradation still happens but at a much slower rate.

The paper's lead author Philipp Dumitrescu said he has been working on the theory behind the science for over five years, but this is the first time it has been "realized" in practical experiments.

"[This dynamical topological phase] is a completely different way of thinking about phases of matter," Dumitrescu told Phys.org.

Must read: Quantum Computing, Explained

The researchers realized their theory by strobing ions of an element in quantum computers called ytterbium. When they hit the ions with a standard repeating pattern (AB, AB, AB...), the resulting qubits stayed quantum for 1.5 seconds, which they noted is an incredible improvement.

However, when they blasted the ions with a Fibonacci pulse (A, AB, ABA, ABAAB, ABAABABA...), the qubits remained in a superstate for an astounding 5.5 seconds. The results are remarkable, considering that the average lifespan of a qubit is about 500 nanoseconds (0.00000005 of a second). This short life is because a qubit leaves its superstate (where it exists simultaneously as both a 1 and a 0) whenever it is observed or measured. Even interactions with other qubits are enough to destroy this quantumness.

"Even if you keep all the atoms under tight control, they can lose their quantumness by talking to their environment, heating up or interacting with things in ways you didn't plan," Dumitrescu said. "In practice, experimental devices have many sources of error that can degrade coherence after just a few laser pulses."

The physics behind it is pretty hard for laypeople to wrap their heads around but is illustrated in the Penrose tiling pattern above. Like typical crystals, this quasicrystal has a stable lattice but with a structure that never repeats. This pattern is a 2D representation of a 5D square lattice.

The researchers wanted to create a similarly symmetrical structure, but rather than constructing it in space, they built it in time. The physicists used the Fibonacci pulsed laser to create a higher dimensional qubit possessing a "time symmetry." When "squashed" into our 4D realm, the resulting qubit has two dimensions of time. This extra dimension somewhat protects the qubit from quantum degradation. However, it is only applied to the outside "edges" of a 10-ytterbium-ion series (the first and the tenth qubit).

"With this quasi-periodic sequence, there's a complicated evolution that cancels out all the errors that live on the edge," said Dumitrescu. "Because of that, the edge stays quantum-mechanically coherent much, much longer than you'd expect."

Although the physicists have demonstrated that the technique creates much more robust qubits, they admit that they still have much work ahead. This new phase of matter can result in long-term quantum information storage, but only if they can somehow integrate it into a quantum computer.

"We have this direct, tantalizing application, but we need to find a way to hook it into the calculations," Dumitrescu said. "That's an open problem we're working on."

Image credit: Quantinuum

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Uncle Al

Posts: 9,072   +8,102
Don't know how many of you are up on your physics but this is a very big deal, almost as important as the announcement early this week that Fusion reaction is now achievable but also profitable. Hopefully it won't be too late to steer us away from all the fossil burning fuels in the near future ....
 

Endymio

Posts: 1,802   +1,860
Keep in mind this isn't a really a physical property. The second dimension of time is something at only makes sense from a math perspective, it doesn't actually have 2 dimensions of time.
Exactly so. The author of the Techspot article has misunderstood the source: the system has two dimensions of time symmetry, but not two actual time dimensions.

...this is a very big deal, almost as important as the announcement early this week that Fusion reaction is now achievable but also profitable.
Not sure what you read, but this isn't true at all. Nor would it matter -- as long as environmentalists oppose fission-based power (which *is* economically viable) they'll oppose fusion just as vehemently.
 
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bviktor

Posts: 952   +1,394
Don't know how many of you are up on your physics but this is a very big deal, almost as important as the announcement early this week that Fusion reaction is now achievable but also profitable. Hopefully it won't be too late to steer us away from all the fossil burning fuels in the near future ....
Link for that fusion news pls
 

comnut

Posts: 77   +30
You have to realize, when physicists say 'space' they mean 'spacetime'... and more complexity...
just search that in ytube :)


As far as I can make out, a room temperature crystal that changes structure over time????
 

wiyosaya

Posts: 7,955   +6,998
Almost as important as the announcement early this week that Fusion reaction is now achievable but also profitable. Hopefully it won't be too late to steer us away from all the fossil burning fuels in the near future ....
I'm not finding anything of the sort on fusion. In fact, what I found is that NIF was not able to recreate the record shattering experiment they announced last year. https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-022-02022-1 and, in fact, they are rethinking what they are doing.
Not sure what you read, but this isn't true at all. Nor would it matter -- as long as environmentalists oppose fission-based power (which *is* economically viable) they'll oppose fusion just as vehemently.
Maybe those who support fission need to stop proposing reactor types that have been known to fail, for one reason or another like locating backup generators where they could get inundated by unexpectedly large waves and thus fail right when they are needed most. Perhaps if those who support fission propose another reactor type that is arguably safer, (and you know there are arguably safer fission reactors) such a reactor would receive enough support to overcome environmental opposition.

You can keep pretending that environmentalists are some sort of unstoppable demon, but whether you like it or not, humanity is dependent on nature, and with the recent listing of a pollinator like the Monarch Butterfly as endangered, since their estimated population has dropped from some 10 million in 1980 to perhaps 2000, today, I think nature is sending humanity a message. Whether you like it or not, if humanity loses too many pollinators, humanity is screwed.

But keep pretending humanity is "doing just fine" and keep ignoring the inter-dependency of humanity on nature until its too late. I bet you will be one of the ones who wonders "where did humanity go wrong". šŸ˜²
 

Uncle Al

Posts: 9,072   +8,102
I'm not finding anything of the sort on fusion. In fact, what I found is that NIF was not able to recreate the record shattering experiment they announced last year. https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-022-02022-1 and, in fact, they are rethinking what they are doing.

Maybe those who support fission need to stop proposing reactor types that have been known to fail, for one reason or another like locating backup generators where they could get inundated by unexpectedly large waves and thus fail right when they are needed most. Perhaps if those who support fission propose another reactor type that is arguably safer, (and you know there are arguably safer fission reactors) such a reactor would receive enough support to overcome environmental opposition.

You can keep pretending that environmentalists are some sort of unstoppable demon, but whether you like it or not, humanity is dependent on nature, and with the recent listing of a pollinator like the Monarch Butterfly as endangered, since their estimated population has dropped from some 10 million in 1980 to perhaps 2000, today, I think nature is sending humanity a message. Whether you like it or not, if humanity loses too many pollinators, humanity is screwed.

But keep pretending humanity is "doing just fine" and keep ignoring the inter-dependency of humanity on nature until its too late. I bet you will be one of the ones who wonders "where did humanity go wrong". šŸ˜²

Look harder, it's out there and was just published two weeks ago .....
 

bviktor

Posts: 952   +1,394
I'm not finding anything of the sort on fusion. In fact, what I found is that NIF was not able to recreate the record shattering experiment they announced last year. https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-022-02022-1 and, in fact, they are rethinking what they are doing.

Maybe those who support fission need to stop proposing reactor types that have been known to fail, for one reason or another like locating backup generators where they could get inundated by unexpectedly large waves and thus fail right when they are needed most. Perhaps if those who support fission propose another reactor type that is arguably safer, (and you know there are arguably safer fission reactors) such a reactor would receive enough support to overcome environmental opposition.

You can keep pretending that environmentalists are some sort of unstoppable demon, but whether you like it or not, humanity is dependent on nature, and with the recent listing of a pollinator like the Monarch Butterfly as endangered, since their estimated population has dropped from some 10 million in 1980 to perhaps 2000, today, I think nature is sending humanity a message. Whether you like it or not, if humanity loses too many pollinators, humanity is screwed.

But keep pretending humanity is "doing just fine" and keep ignoring the inter-dependency of humanity on nature until its too late. I bet you will be one of the ones who wonders "where did humanity go wrong". šŸ˜²
It's environmentalists who achieved the shutdown of German nuclear plants, thanks to which now they're spinning up coal plants. Feeling green yet?

Like it or not, environmentalists often cause more harm than good to nature.

I'm also wondering what kind of fission power you're talking about that people are actively promoting that is "known to fail". The last one was RBMK, in Soviet Russia. We've moved on.
 

Endymio

Posts: 1,802   +1,860
Maybe those who support fission need to stop proposing reactor types that have been known to fail
Everything built by man has the potential to fail. The fact remains that nuclear power is safer than fossil fuels, safer even than wind and solar. In the US, not one single person has died from the nuclear power industry. In Japan -- counting the Fukushima reactor accident -- a total of one person died. Yet -- despite the fact that wind produces only a small fraction as much power as does nuclear -- dozens die each year from wind turbines.

Forbes Magazine: "In England, there were 163 wind turbine accidents that killed 14 people in the year 2011..."

Some from the US:

"John Donnelly, a worker killed in Oregon in 1989 when a lanyard became entangled, dragging him into the spinning machinery. The medical examiner described Donnellyā€™s demise as death by ā€œmultiple amputationsā€, witnessed by a horrified coworker...

Another Oregonian, Chadd Mitchell, young father of two, was killed when a wind turbine tower he was in collapsed to the ground in Sherman County after the turbineā€™s rotor went into ā€œoverspeed" ....

Other deaths have included electrocutions, falls, crush injuries, construction accidents, and a Minnesota man who was nearly cut in half by a chunk of ice knocked off a turbine tower...."
 

Endymio

Posts: 1,802   +1,860
The [Monarch butterfly's] estimated population has dropped from some 10 million in 1980 to perhaps 2000, today, I think nature is sending humanity a message.
Monarch butterflies aren't dying from nuclear power. And it's estimated that some 10,000,000,000+ species went extinct on the planet before man first appeared. What message was nature sending then?

Whether you like it or not, if humanity loses too many pollinators, humanity is screwed.
Utterly, demonstrably, ludicrously false.. Do you just unquestionably accept everything you read, without thinking?

Wheat, corn and rice are wind-pollinated. Lettuce, beans, and tomatoes are self-pollinated. Plants like potatoes, carrots, etc. do not require pollination..."

Furthermore, in the US alone, there are more than 1.5 million species of insects that pollinate plants. Insects are by far the hardiest members of the animal kingdoms. The sun will go supernova before insect pollinators vanish from the planet. The sky isn't falling, Chicken Little.
 

Hodor

Posts: 113   +67
Exactly so. The author of the Techspot article has misunderstood the source: the system has two dimensions of time symmetry, but not two actual time dimensions.

Exactly so. Media likes to use shocking headlines so that we'd click on them. But it's actually just one time.

In fact, even Einstein was wrong, time doesn't slow down or speed up. It's just that processes get "braked" while moving through space at different speeds. So clocks (or even subatomic processes) slow down and it looks like time has slowed down. The difference is hard to understand, and in fact, if time can be split indefinitely, there's no difference. But if time is quantized, there will be rounding errors around the time-tick boundaries, and those errors will be different for processes that move at different speeds.