Physicists Create Continuous Time Crystal for the First Time

Abstract Red Crystals

Researchers observe continuous time crystal for the first time. (Artist’s concept.)

Scientists have succeeded for the first time in realizing a time crystal that spontaneously breaks continuous time translation symmetry. The researchers, from the Institute of Laser Physics at the University of Hamburg, reported their observation in a study published on June 9, 2022, in the journal Science.

The idea of a time crystal goes back to Nobel laureate Franck Wilczek, who first proposed the phenomenon. Similar to water spontaneously turning into ice around the freezing point, thereby breaking the translation symmetry of the system, the time translation symmetry in a dynamical many-body system spontaneously breaks when a time crystal is formed.

In recent years, scientists have already observed discrete or Floquet time crystals in periodically driven closed and open quantum systems. “In all previous experiments, however, the continuous-time translation symmetry is broken by a time-periodic drive,” says Dr. Hans Keßler from Prof. Andreas Hemmerich’s group at the Cluster of Excellence “CUI: Advanced Imaging of Matter.” “The challenge for us was to realize a system that spontaneously breaks the continuous time translation symmetry.”

Cold Atoms in Optical Resonator

The image shows cold atoms (in yellow) in an optical resonator on their way to form a time crystal. Credit: AG Hemmerich

Using a Bose-Einstein condensate inside an optical high-finesse cavity

In their experiment, the researchers used a Bose-Einstein condensate inside an optical high-finesse cavity. Using a time-independent pump, they observed a limit cycle phase which is characterized by emergent periodic oscillations of the intracavity photon number accompanied by the atomic density cycling through recurring patterns.

They discovered that the time phase of the oscillations takes random values between 0 and 2π, as expected for spontaneously broken continuous symmetry. By identifying the stability area in the relevant parameter space and showing the persistence of the limit cycle oscillations even in the presence of strong temporal perturbations, the experimenters demonstrated the robustness of the dynamic phase.

Reference: “Observation of a continuous time crystal” by Phatthamon Kongkhambut, Jim Skulte, Ludwig Mathey, Jayson G. Cosme, Andreas Hemmerich and Hans Keßler, 9 June 2022, Science.
DOI: 10.1126/science.abo3382

45 Comments on "Physicists Create Continuous Time Crystal for the First Time"

  1. I want to be sure to be able to watch the congressional hearings live when these scientists explain the importance of this finding to committees having influence over their funding :o)

  2. A Bose-Einstein condensate inside an optical high-finesse cavity creates the Delorean Flux Capacitor for Doc Brown and Marty McFly.

  3. That explains why it’s 1986 again in Britain.
    I was beginning to think CERN had jumped us into a parallel universe again.

  4. As if everyone didn’t already assume that a time crystal will spontaneously break continuous time translation symmetry…duh.. a time-independent pump, to observe a limit cycle phase which is characterized by emergent periodic oscillations of the intracavity photon number accompanied by the atomic density cycling through recurring patterns..IYKYK 😉

  5. Sounds like word salad to me. Where is the reference point in reality?

  6. Sarah Connor | July 4, 2022 at 6:32 am | Reply

    I love how well this is broken out. Even my 5 year old understands what’s being said here.

  7. Point a camera at the monitor showing it’s output. Here you have spatial, rotational and temporal symmetries on display. The cycle limit on this system follows the same physics as lasers and concepts like injection locking or pulling, entrainment, so how can time crystals not be represented in the system? They are the photons in the feedback loop. If it seems absurd that we could learn as much from a camera monitoring itself as doped diamonds and sophisticated laser systems regarding time translation, then there is a bigger problem at hand than securing funding.

    • Ahh yes video feedback. Interesting patterns when you rotate the camera.It autorotates and a certain angle. It’s the equivalent of having a mirror in front of you and one behind you.

  8. The writer of this story is either trying to impress us with his vocabulary or baffle us with his BS.

  9. Timothy D Chase | July 4, 2022 at 7:56 am | Reply

    Bob, a time crystal can under certain circumstances exist is a quantum superposition and as such may form a material substrate of quantum computation. Furthermore it has recently been demonstrated that at least some time crystals may exist at room temperature. Such a time crystal, capable of maintaining itself in a warm and noisy environment could help preserve the quantum coherence needed for computation and potentially make powerful quantum computers widely available.

  10. Christopher Wiggins | July 4, 2022 at 8:08 am | Reply

    Am I just really baked, or did that make no sense at all?

  11. So powerful a finding. Now that we know how to manifest anything from thin air, breaking the barriers of time space continuum reaching into the quantum field and being able to manifest anything we want sounds like something Jesus would have talked secret teachings of Jesus how to do it with your faith. All humans are, is biological supercomputers.

  12. Scottie Hollywood | July 4, 2022 at 9:45 am | Reply

    Thanks for writing an article free from confusing industry jargon. I am sure the readers here greatly appreciate the clarity.

  13. Ok i consider myself to be relatively intelligent but now i think they are just messing with me. I would like the layman breakdown because time crystals sounds pretty neat but i feel like the author just copied from the white paper or verbatim from the physicists…

  14. Still not sure what a time Crystal does??? Sounds pretty cool though. I am no scienctist but even an idiot like me has observed that the Crystal has the ability to waste time, just by reading about it!

    • mohammed ameer charfaray | July 4, 2022 at 12:59 pm | Reply

      A time Crystal is basically an arrangement of well anything, that can continuously switch states without changing its structure and most importantly without the use of energy, it’s almost like perpetual motion in a way

  15. Nikola Milovic | July 4, 2022 at 12:29 pm | Reply

    In this explanation there is a cocktail of all possible inventions, vague terms, new names of phenomena without a basis, philosophical nebulae, non-existent phenomena, made “coins” of everything that these researchers never understood, namely –
    – what is matter, how and from what is it formed,
    — what are vacuum, virtuality, duality of waves, entanglement, spin, quantum, uncertainty, and that’s why that “scientific cocktail” stunned all those who do not know the laws of movement of particles or celestial bodies.
    If they knew how particles move and what their trajectories look like, they would be ashamed of such nebulous inventions!!

    • Hello Nikola. I need a sounding board for my time travel theories. I believe time travel is possible. One just has to put down a temporal anchor. Related theories include teleportation and FTL. Plus possibly some practical applications.

  16. What in the hell did I just read.

  17. Michael Gariti | July 4, 2022 at 2:20 pm | Reply

    I’m pretty sure that I low-key kind of get what this article is trying to say. They’re thinking that they have diffused a genuine Dr. Strange “time crystal” from a meteorite that hit Earth. Before anybody gets TOO excited, though, realize a couple things… 1. No matter what, no one will ever devise a way to go BACK in time; if they ever did, then there would be several plot-holes and rehashes going on in your mind ad nausium, keeping up with the changes. (Maybe there ARE, you say. Well then obviously no change has made a big enough difference to matter.)

    2. History exists. No one has jumped back to quell any activities commonly agreed to be BAD. I’ll use the famous “Hitler” quandry. Did he exist? How about now?

  18. jean marie mccammond | July 4, 2022 at 2:27 pm | Reply

    may-be the time calibration remedy for the “glitch (for lack of more appropriate analogy) that affected leap years and the random omni areas it affected.

  19. Basically they’re trying to create a real time infinity stone/crystal.

  20. Time crystals eventually change pattern/phase change while still keeping a pattern/phase change of a different type on a ongoing time scale never losing energy or using outside energy except to interact but not gain from, these scientists have found a way to keep it in it’s same first pattern without letting it’s phase change into an eventual new pattern within a value of 0 to 2π which is to say they can now predict what will be and given that we have made classic computers and many models that’s build our world. What they are saying is they have gained some control. And with that come new tech.

  21. David Rentschler | July 4, 2022 at 5:09 pm | Reply
    looks like a time crystal overcomes the 2nd law of thermodynamics, therefore a continuous time crystal is a big deal!

  22. Just draw a picture or something. Don’t try to cram a ton of bs down our eye sockets and tell us it’s science. Nobody has a slight iota of a clue as to what you just said in this entire page of vocabulary nonsense. Just draw us a picture or explain it as you would to a toddler. How do continuous time crystals affect my having to wake up, go to work, pay bills and repeat? I’ll wait for the good news, right here.

  23. I call it…the flux capacitor!!

  24. So a time cristal is a transistor that doesn’t require energy to change states? That’s what I am reading, this would make an awesome fast computer.

  25. Elizabeth krasteva | July 5, 2022 at 9:11 am | Reply

    Considering our solar system is now re unified and observed the time lapse cause of the dark matter black hole through the milkey way mars has died and solar mars Neptune is rebuilding its energy there are 49 hours in one day so one day is two moon days in one day there’s 24 hours then 26 as sun sets depending where the sun and moon are and yes they have both been split apart due to burning holes of plasma and for them to live important thing to learn about cause time is going by fast or so slow be prepared for your day n yes theirs life forms on these plants even angels on the sun

  26. Every article talking about creation of time crystals is quantum bs. None of them tell you they were all computer simulations which means absolutely nothing because they programmed the behavior and then it behaved that way. This is no spontaneous anything. It’s like saying.. we built a game and programmed the monsters to do x,y,z.. and then they did x,y,z thus proving that digital monsters can think… Ie. They do as they are programmed to do. Every word in this article is pure nonsense. It’s the snake oil salesman making up a bunch of complicated sounding bs to get more funding for further bs…

  27. Chris from Cali | July 5, 2022 at 11:51 am | Reply

    I’m never reading another “article” from this website again. What a waste of time and mental energy.

  28. Ummm what?

  29. Ok , so now what’s it good for?

  30. Alok Kumar Mishra | July 6, 2022 at 6:14 am | Reply

    Hindi translation should be correct, please don’t take otherwise, it’s just my humble opinion, can I do it for website? thanks for your precious contribution to science enthusiasts.

  31. What????

  32. one i was watching a science conference video and Franck Wilczek started saying dogs were like something living in an alternate reality because how they can perceive life differently. that’s Franck, or talking about how we will eventually fill in the gaps in the standard model while buying pumpkins on the side of the road during halloween.

  33. You said it Bob

  34. Well duh! I swear it’s like I’m working with my sister’s kids sometimes.

  35. Sir, We don’t manifest from thin air! We conjure. Would you like a DeLorean?

  36. A time Chrystal when stable is able to create and sustain its own energy without the consticts of time slowing or weakening it
    Therefor if we can create one that lasts longer times lol we have sustainable affordable unlimited energy if harnessed correctly

  37. The time crystal is a way to secure more funding. Mostly for weapons of epic destructive capacity. Prove me wrong, please.

  38. Interesting, but rather meaningless unless you study quantum physics.

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