The physicists of the Department of Quantum Information and Matter of the California Institute of Technology discovered a new state of matter – three-dimensional liquid quantum crystals. The discovery promises progress in the development of ultra-fast quantum computing technologies and, according to scientists, is “just the tip of the iceberg”.
The particles of ordinary liquid crystal crystals have a phase of free motion (since it is still a liquid), but they have some characteristics inherent in solids. Liquid crystals can be created artificially (they are easily found in our everyday life, for example, in all displays of electronic devices) or found in nature, where they form biological cell membranes.
Liquid quantum crystals were first discovered in 1999. Their particles basically behave like particles of ordinary liquid crystals, however their electrons, as a rule, are oriented along certain axes. Electrons of three-dimensional liquid quantum crystals, in turn, can have different magnetic properties, depending on the direction of their motion along a given axis. From a practical point of view, this means that the electrification of the material on their basis will make it possible to turn it into a magnet or change the strength or direction of its magnetism.
Due to this feature, according to researchers, three-dimensional liquid crystal crystals can find their application in the development and production of more efficient computer chips. The discovery of three-dimensional liquid quantum crystals will also shorten the way to the beginning of the production of high-grade quantum computers capable of much faster decoding the code and much faster to perform computational operations due to the quantum nature of the particles.
The creation of a quantum computer is still an extremely laborious task in view of the very specific nature of quantum effects, which are highly variable. Quantum states can be easily changed or even destroyed by their simple interaction with their environment. This problem can be solved using a method that requires the use of special materials – topological superconductors. And it is here that three-dimensional liquid quantum crystals can claim the main role.
“In the same way as in its time two-dimensional liquid quantum crystals were considered as precursors of the appearance of high-temperature superconductors, three-dimensional liquid quantum crystals are considered precursors of the appearance of topological superconductors, which we all are waiting for,” – commented the assistant professor of physics of Caltech and one and the participants of the study David Se .
“Instead of relying on intuition in the development of topological superconductors, we now have a rational basis in the form of three-dimensional liquid quantum crystals,” adds John Harter, lead author of the study and author of a press release published in the scientific journal Science.
“Topological superconductors are our next goal on the agenda,” Harter concludes.