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A 4D clock that will never stop!

Posted: 26 Sep 2012     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:4D clock  heat-death  quantum  trapped ions 

Scientists have proposed to build a 4D clock that will keep accurate time forever, even after the heat-death of the universe.

"This is the "wow" factor behind a device known as a 'space-time crystal'—a four-dimensional crystal that has periodic structure in time as well as space," researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory claimed.

The Berkeley Lab team has proposed the experimental design of a space-time crystal. The design is based on an electric-field ion trap and the Coulomb repulsion of particles that carry the same electrical charge.

4D Clock

With such a 4D crystal, scientists would be able to study how complex physical properties and behaviours emerge from the collective interactions of large numbers of individual particles, the so-called many-body problem of physics.

It could also be used to study phenomena in the quantum world, such as entanglement, in which an action on one particle impacts another particle even if the two particles are separated by vast distances.

"The electric field of the ion trap holds charged particles in place and Coulomb repulsion causes them to spontaneously form a spatial ring crystal," said Xiang Zhang, a faculty scientist with Berkeley Lab's materials sciences division who led this research. "Under the application of a weak static magnetic field, this ring-shaped ion crystal will begin a rotation that will never stop. The persistent rotation of trapped ions produces temporal order, leading to the formation of a space-time crystal at the lowest quantum energy state."

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