Quantum Information with Trapped Ions

Time crystals with trapped ions

Ions trapped in a symmetric ring, cooled to nano-Kelvin temperatures can exhibit spontaneous time symmetry breaking, creating a quantum time crystal. Time crystals are a peculiar system because the ground state wave function has a time dependence [1]. In the case of a ring of ions, in the presence of a magnetic field through the center of the ring, the ground state has rotation around the center axis [2]. The time crystal can be detected by promoting one ion to a long lived state and probing its location at a later time. This time-dependent pseudo ground state would be a previously undetected state of matter. In order to create a quantum time crystal, we are working to construct a new ion trap architecture and imaging system to incorporate a novel ring trap design.

Ions trapped in a cylindrically symmetric sombrero potential
Ions in a Sombrero Potential

[1] Frank Wilczek. Quantum time crystals. Phys. Rev. Lett., 109:160401, Oct 2012.

[2] Tongcang Li, Zhe-Xuan Gong, Zhang-Qi Yin, H. T. Quan, Xiaobo Yin, Peng Zhang, L.-M. Duan, and Xiang Zhang. Space-time crystals of trapped ions. Phys. Rev. Lett., 109:163001, Oct 2012.

For this project we collaborate with the Zhang-lab, Mechanical Engineering UC Berkeley. It is supported by the W.M. Keck Foundation