Time crystals may be the next major leap in quantum network research

Simulating complex quantum networks with time crystals.


Crystals arise as a result of the breaking of spatial translation symmetry. Normal crystals such as diamonds or salt repeat their atomic self-organization in space but do not show any regularity in time.

The concept of time crystals, arrangements of matter that repeat in time- was first observed in 2012 and observed in 2017. Unlike ordinary crystals, time crystals organize themselves and repeat their patterns in time. It means the structure of time crystals changes periodically as time progresses.

A new study has suggested that time crystals may be the next major leap in quantum network research. In a study conducted at the National Institute of Informatics (NII), Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation (NTT), Osaka University, the Japanese-French Laboratory of Informatics (JFLI) and Tokyo University of Science, scientists developed a method to use time crystals to simulate massive networks with very little computing power.

Paper author Kae Nemoto, a professor in the principles of the informatics research division at the National Institute of Informatics, said, “The exploration of time crystals is a very active field of research. Several varied experimental realizations have been achieved. Yet an intuitive and complete insight into the nature of time crystals and their characterization, as well as a set of proposed applications, is lacking. In this paper, we provide new tools based on graph theory and statistical mechanics to fill this gap.”

Scientists studied how the quantum nature of time crystals—how they shift from moment to moment in a predictable, repeating pattern—can be used to simulate large, specialized networks, such as communication systems or artificial intelligence.

Marta Estrellas, one of the first authors of the paper from the National Institute of Informatics, said“In the classical world, this would be impossible as it would require a huge amount of computing resources. We are not only bringing a new method to represent and understand quantum processes, but also a different way to look at quantum computers.”

“Can we use quantum network representation and its tools to understand complex quantum systems and their phenomena, as well as identify applications?” Nemoto asked. “In this work, we show the answer is yes.”

Using time crystals after their approach, scientists are now planning to explore different quantum systems. They aim to propose real applications for embedding exponentially large complex networks in a few qubits or quantum bits.

Journal Reference:
  1. M. P. Estrellas et al., Simulating complex quantum networks with time crystals, Science Advances (2020). DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aay8892
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