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TSS中文首发:由光制成的时间晶体即将走出实验室

TSS DEBUTS IN CHINESE: Time Crystals Made of Light Could Soon Escape the Lab

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任何晶体,无论是食盐颗粒还是项链上的钻石,都只是一堆原子以重复模式排列的结果。科学家们只需瞥见水晶中几个规律性分布的原子,就可以推测出所有其他的原子应该在哪里。

Any crystal, whether a granule of table salt or a diamond necklace, is just a bunch of atoms arranged in a repeating pattern. By glimpsing only a few of the crystal’s patterned atoms, a scientist may surmise where all the others should be.

但是,如果这种模式是在时间上重复而非在空间上重复的,那会怎样?这个反直觉的概念是 “时间晶体”——其量子系统表现出晶体般的可预测重复行为——的基础。麻省理工学院物理学家和诺贝尔奖获得者弗兰克·维尔切克在2012年首次提出了有关其存在的理论。而经过多年的艰苦工作,实验人员终在2021年成功地将一个晶体制作出。现在,由加州大学河滨分校的工程师Hossein Taheri领导的一个物理学家团队通过用光制作一个时间晶体的研究取得了另一项进展。他们的工作——发表在2月的《自然·通讯》上——可以让时间晶体从精致的实验奇物转变为实用设备中更坚固的组件。

But what if that pattern was spread across time rather than space? This counterintuitive concept is the basis of “time crystals,” quantum systems that exhibit crystal-like predictably repetitive behavior. Massachusetts Institute of Technology physicist and Nobel laureate Frank Wilczek first theorized their existence in 2012. And after years of arduous work, experimentalists only managed to conclusively engineer one into existence in 2021. Now a team of physicists led by engineer Hossein Taheri of the University of California, Riverside, have achieved another advance by making a time crystal out of light. Their work, published in Nature Communications in February, could help time crystals transform from delicate experimental curiosities into more robust components of practical devices.

“这是一类全新的物质状态。”维尔切克表示,”对我来说,完全可以想象,当你对它们进行测试时,能投入使用的设备和其他惊喜也会出现。这是一块处女地:我们正在探索一个崭新的世界。”

“This is a whole new class of states of matter,” Wilczek says. “It is very conceivable to me that, when you examine them, useful devices and other surprises will emerge. It’s virgin territory; we are discovering a new world here.”

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