The image is for illustrative purposes only, we don’t know what Time Crystals look like.
Scientist have created a whole new state of matter which they call “Time Crystals”, and no, they don’t travel through time.
As far as we learned in school, there are three states of matter, solid, liquid and gas. If studied further, or are later than a millennial, you might have learned that there’s a fourth state of matter known as plasma, that happens under extreme conditions, like out in the universe. Not long ago, in the 90s, modern technology allowed scientists to created new states of matter, like Bose-Einstein condensates, and today they have created Time Crystals.
If you’re not a science fan, maybe it is best if we start out with explaining what states of matter actually are. To begin with, matter is the building blocks of the universe. Everything is made up of matter, it is the atoms, molecules and ions that make up physical things. It is characterized as anything that has a mass and takes up space.
Now what makes one state different from another lies in the structure of the particles, how close/far they are, and how they move and react. Like water, it can be vapor (gas), when individual molecules roam free, and it can be liquid when molecules for a weak bond, or ice, when molecules are very closely constructed to make it a hard solid.
Now for a matter to change state, it needs to reach a tipping point. For example, if you have a piece of ice at 20 degrees Celsius and you heat it, its temperature will keep on rising until it hits 0 degrees and stop. At 0 degrees Celsius, the ice stops rising in temperature, but its molecular structure reacts to change, and becomes liquid water at 0 degrees Celsius.
A team of American researchers led by UC Berkeley’s Norman Yao, published a paper published in Physical Review Letter, explaining how to both make and measure the properties of what they call Time Crystals.
It was a few months ago that a team of researchers from the University of Maryland constructed a chain of 10 ytterbium atoms, and flashed them with with to laser beams a few times to push them out of equilibrium.
What they found was extraordinary. The scientists discovered that the chain settled in a stable repetitive pattern, even though the ytterbium itself stayed out of equilibrium. That was the birth of the new state of matter, Time Crystals, a class of material that can’t just settle in motionless equilibrium.
Yao explained it like this: “Wouldn’t it be super weird if you jiggled Jell-O and found that somehow it responded at a different period?”, that is one, and maybe the most noticeable, characteristic of Time Crystals.
So far scientists don’t know how Time Crystals can be put to use, but some believe that they might be useful in fields of quantum computing in the near future.