Time crystals and superconductors form power pair for quantum computing

quantum computing

Researchers have discovered special interactions between electrons and crystal lattices inside superconducting metals via time crystals for the first time. This finding, that can radically transform the technology of the future including error-free quantum computers, has been published in the highly regarded journal Science Advances.

Crux of the Matter

Time Crystals in Space
A space-time crystal is a structure that repeats in time, as well as in space. Normal three-dimensional crystals have a repeating pattern in space, but remain unchanged as time passes. Time crystals repeat themselves in time as well, leading the crystal to change from moment to moment. This allows them to maintain constant oscillation without energy. The idea of a quantum time crystal was first described by Nobel laureate Frank Wilczek in 2012.

The Breakthrough
The experiment involved blasting pulses of light at a bismuth-based compound, split up into 100-nanometre samples with simple Scotch tape. By adding spectroscopy analysis as well, the scientists could monitor electrons within the material in response to laser light.

By using ultrafast electron diffraction and photoemission spectroscopy techniques, the team was able to observe changes in the energy and momentum of electrons passing through the metal. They were also able to track down transitions in the metal at the atomic level.

Potential of the Discovery Ahead
Senior researcher Yimei Zhu, from the Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York says “This breakthrough offers direct, fundamental insight into the puzzling characteristics of these remarkable materials.” The underlying science of being able to manipulate energy through superconductors is complex, due to the delicate dynamics and subatomic scales involved, but the new research observed superconductivity at a level of precision that wasn’t seen before. This opens up the possibility of gadgets that work faster, last longer, and are many times more powerful than we’re used to.


Superconductivity is the set of physical properties observed in certain materials, wherein electrical resistance vanishes and from which magnetic flux fields are expelled. Any material exhibiting these properties is a superconductor. Unlike an ordinary metallic conductor, whose resistance decreases gradually as its temperature is lowered even down to near absolute zero, a superconductor has a characteristic critical temperature below which the resistance drops abruptly to zero. An electric current through a loop of superconducting wire can persist indefinitely with no power source.

This phenomenon was discovered by Dutch physicist Heike Kamerlingh Onnes on April 8, 1911, in Leiden. Like ferromagnetism and atomic spectral lines, superconductivity is a quantum mechanical mystery. It is characterized by the Meissner effect, the complete ejection of magnetic field lines from the interior of the superconductor during its transitions into the superconducting state. The occurrence of the Meissner effect indicates that superconductivity cannot be understood simply as the idealization of perfect conductivity in classical physics. More Info