By firing a Fibonacci laser pulse at the atoms inside a quantum computer, physicists have created an entirely new and exotic phase of matter that behaves as if it had two dimensions of time.

Including an additional “theoretical ‘time’ dimension is an entirely different way of thinking about the phases of matter,” lead author Philip Domitrescu, a researcher at the Flatiron Center for Computational Quantum Physics in New York City, said, He said in a statement . “I’ve been working on this theory Ideas for over five years, and seeing them actually materialize in trials is exciting.”

Related: Another ‘time crystal’ made inside Google’s quantum computer could change physics forever

The physicists did not set out to create a stage with a theoretical additional time dimension, nor did they look for a way to enable better storage of quantum data. Instead, they were interested in creating a new phase of matter – a new form in which matter could exist, beyond standard solids and liquids. Gas plasma.

They set out to build the new stage in the quantum computer company’s H1 quantum processor, which consists of 10 ytterbium ions in a vacuum chamber precisely controlled by a laser in a device known as an ion trap.

Ordinary computers use bits, or 0 and 1, to form the basis for all arithmetic operations. Quantum computers are designed to use qubits, which can also exist in the 0 or 1 state. But that’s where the similarities end. Thanks to the strange laws of the quantum world, qubits can exist in a combination, or superposition, of both states 0 and 1 until the moment they are measured, which randomly collapses to 0 or 1.

This strange behavior is key to the power of quantum computing, as it allows qubits to bind to each other Quantum entanglement which is a process Albert Einstein It’s called “remote scary work.” Entanglement pairs two or more qubits with each other, correlating their properties so that a change in one particle results in a change in the other, even if they are separated by vast distances. This gives quantum computers the ability to perform multiple calculations simultaneously, greatly increasing their processing power compared to classical machines.

But the development of quantum computers is hampered by a major flaw: Qubits not only interact and entangle each other; Since they cannot be completely isolated from the environment outside a quantum computer, they also interact with the external environment, causing them to lose their quantum properties, and the information they carry, in a process called decoherence.

Even if I keep all the files atoms Under tight control, they can lose their ‘quantum’ by talking to their environment, heating up or interacting with things in ways they didn’t plan for,” Domitrescu said.

To overcome these pesky decoherence effects and create a new, stable phase, physicists have looked at a special set of phases called topological phases. Quantum entanglement enables quantum devices not only to encode information across the static individual positions of qubits, but also to weave it into the dynamic movements and interactions of the whole of matter—into the very shape or structure of matter entangled states. This creates a “topological” qubit that encodes information as it consists of multiple parts rather than one part alone, making the phase less likely to lose its information.

The main distinguishing feature of the transition from one phase to another is the breaking of physical symmetries – the idea that the laws of physics are the same for an object at any point in time or space. As a liquid, water molecules follow the same physical laws at every point in space and in every direction. But if you cool water enough that it turns into ice, its molecules will choose regular points along the crystal structure, or lattice, to arrange themselves across. Suddenly, the water molecules preferred points in space to occupy, and the other points were left empty; The spatial symmetry of the water was automatically broken.

The creation of a new topological stage within a quantum computer also depends on the breaking of symmetry, but with this new stage, the symmetry is not broken across space, but through time.

Related: The world’s first multi-cipher quantum network is a major advance for the quantum internet

By giving each ion in the chain a periodic jolt using the laser, the physicists wanted to break the continuous time symmetry of the ions at rest and impose their own time symmetry – qubits remain the same across certain time periods – and this would create a rhythmic topological phase across matter.

But the experiment failed. Rather than inducing a topological phase that was immune to the effects of decoherence, the regular laser pulses multiplied the noise from outside the system, destroying it less than 1.5 seconds after being turned on.

After revisiting the experiment, the researchers realized that to create a more robust topological phase, they would need to hold symmetry more than once in the ion thread to reduce the potential for system perturbation. To do this, they settled on finding a pulsating pattern that did not simply and regularly repeat but nonetheless exhibited a kind of higher symmetry through time.

This led them to Fibonacci sequence , where the next number of the sequence is created by adding the previous two numbers. Whereas a simple periodic laser pulse may alternate between two laser sources (A, B, A, B, A, B, etc.), the new pulse train ran instead by combining the two pulses that came before (A , AB, ABA, ABAAB, ABAABABA, etc.).

This Fibonacci pulse created a time symmetry that, just like a quasicrystal in space, was arranged without repetition. Like a quasicrystal, Fibonacci pulsations also squash a higher-dimensional pattern on a lower-dimensional surface. In the case of a spatial quasicrystal such as a Penrose tiling, a slice of a five-dimensional lattice is projected onto a two-dimensional surface. Looking at the Fibonacci pulse pattern, we see two time-theoretic symmetries that are flattened into one physical symmetry.

An example of a Penrose tiling (Image credit: Shutterstock)
“The system essentially obtains additional consistency from an additional time dimension that does not exist,” the researchers wrote in the statement. The system appears as matter that exists in some higher two-dimensionality of time – even if this is virtually impossible in reality.

When the team tested it, the new quasi-periodic Fibonacci pulse created a topographical phase that protected the system from data loss over the entire 5.5 seconds of testing. In fact, they created a stage that was immune to decoupling for longer than others.

“With this quasi-periodic sequence, there is a complex evolution that eliminates all the errors that live on the edge,” Domitrescu said. “Because of that, the edge remains quantum mechanically coherent a lot, much longer than you’d expect.”

Although physicists have achieved their goal, there is still one hurdle to making their phase a useful tool for quantum programmers: integrate it with the computational aspect of quantum computing so that it can be entered with computations.

“We have this straightforward and impressive app, but we need to find a way to link it to the accounts,” Domitrescu said. “This is an open problem that we are working on.”

Originally published on Live Science.

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