Those in the field of quantum computing have long been working to drive the development of quantum processors, of course, but the quantum RAM perspective has only just arrived on the scene, thanks to new research on so-called ‘time crystals’.
As Tom’s Hardware (opens in new tab)who discovered this, points out, the idea of time crystals is not new, and they were first theorized a decade ago by Frank Wilczek, a theoretical physicist who won a Nobel.
Then, in 2016, two groups of scientists claimed to create crystals for the first time, and now, in a new paper published by Nature (opens in new tab)researchers at Aalto University in Finland have successfully experimented with a pair of coupled time crystals, and this could point the way to creating quantum RAM, as mentioned.
What exactly is a time crystal? It is a quantum system with particles in a periodic pattern of motion that repeats and maintains itself perpetually, without burning or creating energy.
In other words, this is a system that reaches a stable state of motion without energy – but still obeys the laws of thermodynamics. There is no work done on the system or energy that can be extracted from it.
The researchers created their system of two time crystals coupled in helium-3 in a superfluid state (obtained by cooling to just a small amount above absolute zero), using a laser to create the time crystals (pumping energy into them). .
Analysis: Major ramifications in the future?
In this experiment, the motion of the time crystal continued not indefinitely, but for almost 17 minutes, although this is really an absolute age in quantum computing (where coherence times are measured in milliseconds and not even seconds – let alone minutes).
And it’s long enough to spark speculation that time crystals could eventually be the key to unlocking the quantum computing equivalent of RAM, acting as a system with long-lasting storage potential that the quantum processor can access. Furthermore, the researchers also theorized that this system of coupled time crystals could work at room temperature (instead of having to be cooled to near absolute zero, as is the case with this experiment, which is not very practical of course).
All in all, there seems to be good prospects that this quantum RAM idea made with time crystals could eventually see the light of day; although in reality there is still a long way to go (and this is true enough about the wider world of quantum computers, of course).