“Powering a topological superconductor through a time crystal offers you more than the sum of its components,” says Jason Alicea, a researcher at California Institute of Technology.
The breakthrough of topological states has bred reams of research revealing new condensed matter and quantum physics, with potential technological purposes in spintronics and quantum computing.
Equally, not long after the first observations of topological insulators in the late 20s, the ideas of time crystals emerged, introducing another contemporary arena for examining new physics that could be exploited in exact timekeeping and quantum technologies.
Alicea, alongside Aaron Chew, at California Institute of Technology and David Mross at the Weizmann Institute in Israel, report in Physical Review Letters theoretical investigations of systems that unite the two phenomena.
The researchers had been lucky to discover these techniques as something of a “joyful accident” throughout research Chew, and Mross had been conducting on topological superconductors, one type of an entire family of supplies that has proliferated fruitfully over the last 10 to 20 years.
A typical example of such clean transformations is the morphing of a doughnut into a coffee cup—the field can’t morph into a doughnut or an espresso cup without cutting the hole or handle, which might make the transformation no longer easy.
In a topological insulator, properties related to the electron wave function are topologically invariant. In crossing this frontier, the wave function has to undergo a transformation that may lead to conducting edge or floor states on the barrier that are symmetry-protected by particle number conservation and time-reversal symmetry, making them sturdy to perturbations.