Scientists Announce First Proof of Quantum Boomerangs and Share Backstory of Google’s Time Crystal

The latest in quantum leaps

Researchers will discuss new experimental milestones in quantum science at the 2022 APS March Meeting, during a press conference at 10 a.m. CDT on Wednesday, March 16, 2022. The conference will be held onsite and streamed via Zoom.

A new study in Physical Review X reports experimental evidence for a recently predicted quantum theory.

“We have for the first time observed the ‘quantum boomerang effect,’ a fundamental feature of localized matter whereby a particle launched in any direction should, on average, return to the origin and remain there—like a boomerang,” said David Weld, physicist at the University of California Santa Barbara.

Weld will explain how the effect baffles classical predictions and could be used to sensitively diagnose and map quantum localization. He and his collaborators used quantum gases to test the boomerang in a variety of states within disordered systems.

The team also will report a new kicked quasicrystal, which exists between localized and delocalized states for an extended period.

Finally, Google Research Scientist Xiao Mi will go behind the scenes on the creation of a very different crystal: a time crystal, produced using the Sycamore quantum computer.

“Simulating phases of matter with a quantum computer can potentially shed light on questions that are difficult to answer otherwise,” said Mi.

The experiment, reported in Nature in November, provides strong evidence that the researchers produced an actual time crystal, a kind of quantum perpetual motion machine. Mi will explain the new techniques the team had to develop to control the system and mitigate errors.

Revealing a real-life time crystal may be just the first of many steps Sycamore takes to surpass obstacles that plague normal computers.

“Quantum computing is now poised to solve classically hard many-body physics problems, lightening a path toward quantum computational advantage in the near future,” said Mi.

Localization and Delocalization in Kicked Quantum Matter
12:42 p.m. – 1:18 p.m. CDT, Friday, March 19, 2022
Contact: David Weld, University of California, Santa Barbara
Abstract | Physical Review X Paper | UCSB Press Release

Observation of Time-Crystalline Eigenstate Order on a Quantum Processor
8:00 a.m. – 8:12 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, March 15, 2022
Contact: Xiao Mi, Google
Abstract | Nature Paper

Colorful lithium machine.CREDIT: Tony Mastres

Lithium machine used to take kicked quantum matter data.

Gold processor reading “Google AI Quantum” and “Sycamore”CREDIT: Google Quantum AI

A picture of the quantum processor used for the time-crystal experiment.

Row of shiny three-dimensional crystalsCREDIT: Google Quantum AI

Artist's rendition of a time-crystal.