The future of computing is in the quantum world. By using the properties of quantum mechanics, scientists hope to produce incredible calculations with speeds that can’t be matched by even the most powerful supercomputer.
It's still a long road to a working quantum computer, but researchers across the world are keen to understand how best to employ these devices. A key question being explored is what would a “quantum internet” look like? The answer might come thanks to time crystals.
Time crystals are a recent discovery. Just like a regular crystal is made of particles in a pattern repeating in space, these objects are made of particles whose arrangements repeat periodically in time. They are a quirkiness of physics rather than a way to power your time machines.
As reported in Science Advances, researchers from the National Institute of Informatics, Japan, have put forward a new use for time crystals. The analysis of the interaction in a melting time crystal can be used to simulate how a complex quantum network will behave, which is something we can’t do with current computers.
"In the classical world, this would be impossible as it would require a huge amount of computing resources," co-first author Marta Estarellas said in a statement. "We are not only bringing a new method to represent and understand quantum processes, but also a different way to look at quantum computers."
"Can we use this network representation and its tools to understand complex quantum systems and their phenomena, as well as identify applications? In this work, we show the answer is yes," co-author Professor Kae Nemoto explained.
The team plans to test these ideas on real melting time crystals and then use them to explore the properties of different quantum systems. Quantum computers use qubits, which is the quantum version of the classic 0/1 bits in current digital devices. A processor with just a handful of qubits can outcompete current machines. The use of time crystals could provide insights on how to best put these qubits to use.