Space-time crystals of trapped ions

Por • 27 jun, 2012 • Sección: Opinion

Tongcang Li, Zhe-Xuan Gong, Zhang-Qi Yin, H. T. Quan, Xiaobo Yin, Peng Zhang, L.-M. Duan, Xiang Zhang

Abstract: Great progresses have been made in exploring exciting physics of low dimensional materials in last few decades. Important examples include the discovering and synthesizing of fullerenes (zero dimensional, 0D), carbon nanotubes (1D) and graphene (2D). A fundamental question is whether we can create materials with dimensions higher than that of conventional 3D crystals, for example, a 4D crystal that has periodic structures in both space and time. Here we propose a space-time crystal of trapped ions and a method to realize it experimentally by confining ions in a ring-shaped trapping potential with a static magnetic field. The ions spontaneously form a spatial ring crystal due to Coulomb repulsion. This ion crystal can rotate persistently at the lowest quantum energy state in magnetic fields with fractional fluxes. The persistent rotation of trapped ions produces the temporal order, leading to the formation of a space-time crystal. We show that these space-time crystals are robust for direct experimental observation. The proposed space-time crystals of trapped ions provide a new dimension for exploring many-body physics and emerging properties of matter.

arXiv:1206.4772v1 [quant-ph]

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