skip to main content

This content will become publicly available on June 11, 2022

Title: Observation of a prethermal discrete time crystal

Extending the framework of statistical physics to the nonequilibrium setting has led to the discovery of previously unidentified phases of matter, often catalyzed by periodic driving. However, preventing the runaway heating that is associated with driving a strongly interacting quantum system remains a challenge in the investigation of these newly discovered phases. In this work, we utilize a trapped-ion quantum simulator to observe the signatures of a nonequilibrium driven phase without disorder—the prethermal discrete time crystal. Here, the heating problem is circumvented not by disorder-induced many-body localization, but rather by high-frequency driving, which leads to an expansive time window where nonequilibrium phases can emerge. Floquet prethermalization is thus presented as a general strategy for creating, stabilizing, and studying intrinsically out-of-equilibrium phases of matter.

Authors:
 ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  
Award ID(s):
1818914
Publication Date:
NSF-PAR ID:
10248911
Journal Name:
Science
Volume:
372
Issue:
6547
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
p. 1192-1196
ISSN:
0036-8075
Publisher:
American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Abstract

    The Dicke model—a paradigmatic example of superradiance in quantum optics—describes an ensemble of atoms which are collectively coupled to a leaky cavity mode. As a result of the cooperative nature of these interactions, the system’s dynamics is captured by the behavior of a single mean-field, collective spin. In this mean-field limit, it has recently been shown that the interplay between photon losses and periodic driving of light–matter coupling can lead to time-crystalline-like behavior of the collective spin (Gonget al2018Phys. Rev. Lett.120040404). In this work, we investigate whether such a Dicke time crystal (TC) is stable to perturbations that explicitlymore »break the mean-field solvability of the conventional Dicke model. In particular, we consider the addition of short-range interactions between the atoms which breaks the collective coupling and leads to complex many-body dynamics. In this context, the interplay between periodic driving, dissipation and interactions yields a rich set of dynamical responses, including long-lived and metastable Dicke-TCs, where losses can cool down the many-body heating resulting from the continuous pump of energy from the periodic drive. Specifically, when the additional short-range interactions are ferromagnetic, we observe time crystalline behavior at non-perturbative values of the coupling strength, suggesting the possible existence of stable dynamical order in a driven-dissipative quantum many-body system. These findings illustrate the rich nature of novel dynamical responses with many-body character in quantum optics platforms.

    « less
  2. The control of nonequilibrium quantum dynamics in many-body systems is challenging because interactions typically lead to thermalization and a chaotic spreading throughout Hilbert space. We investigate nonequilibrium dynamics after rapid quenches in a many-body system composed of 3 to 200 strongly interacting qubits in one and two spatial dimensions. Using a programmable quantum simulator based on Rydberg atom arrays, we show that coherent revivals associated with so-called quantum many-body scars can be stabilized by periodic driving, which generates a robust subharmonic response akin to discrete time-crystalline order. We map Hilbert space dynamics, geometry dependence, phase diagrams, and system-size dependence ofmore »this emergent phenomenon, demonstrating new ways to steer complex dynamics in many-body systems and enabling potential applications in quantum information science.

    « less
  3. Abstract

    Robustness to disorder is the defining property of any topological state. The ultimate disorder limits to topological protection are still unknown, although a number of theories predict that even in the amorphous state a quantized conductance might yet reemerge. Here we report that in strongly disordered thin films of the topological material Sb2Te3disorder-induced spin correlationsdominate transport of charge—they engender a spin memory phenomenon, generated by the nonequilibrium charge currents controlled by localized spins. We directly detect a glassy yet robust disorder-induced magnetic signal in filmsfree of extrinsic magnetic dopants, which becomes null in a lower-disorder crystalline state. This ismore »where large isotropic negative magnetoresistance (MR)—a hallmark of spin memory—crosses over to positive MR, first with only one e2/hquantum conduction channel, in a weakly antilocalized diffusive transport regime with a 2D scaling characteristic of the topological state. A fresh perspective revealed by our findings is that spin memory effect sets a disorder threshold to the protected topological state. It also points to new possibilities of tuning spin-dependent charge transport by disorder engineering of topological materials.

    « less
  4. Abstract

    The non-equilibrium dynamics of matter excited by light may produce electronic phases, such as laser-induced high-transition-temperature superconductivity, that do not exist in equilibrium. Here we simulate the dynamics of a metal driven at initial time by a spatially uniform pump that excites dipole-active vibrational modes which couple nonlinearly to electrons. We provide evidence for rapid loss of spatial coherence, leading to emergent effective disorder in the dynamics, which arises in a system unitarily evolving under a translation-invariant Hamiltonian, and dominates the electronic behavior as the system evolves towards a correlated electron-phonon long-time state, possibly explaining why transient superconductivity ismore »not observed. Our framework provides a basis within which to understand correlation dynamics in current pump-probe experiments of vibrationally coupled electrons, highlight the importance of the evolution of phase coherence, and demonstrate that pumped electron-phonon systems provide a means of realizing dynamically induced disorder in translation-invariant systems.

    « less
  5. Abstract

    Nonlinear photocurrent in time-reversal invariant noncentrosymmetric systems such as ferroelectric semimetals sparked tremendous interest of utilizing nonlinear optics to characterize condensed matter with exotic phases. Here we provide a microscopic theory of two types of second-order nonlinear direct photocurrents, magnetic shift photocurrent (MSC) and magnetic injection photocurrent (MIC), as the counterparts of normal shift current (NSC) and normal injection current (NIC) in time-reversal symmetry and inversion symmetry broken systems. We show that MSC is mainly governed by shift vector and interband Berry curvature, and MIC is dominated by absorption strength and asymmetry of the group velocity difference at time-reversedmore »±kpoints. Taking$${\cal{P}}{\cal{T}}$$PT-symmetric magnetic topological quantum material bilayer antiferromagnetic (AFM) MnBi2Te4as an example, we predict the presence of large MIC in the terahertz (THz) frequency regime which can be switched between two AFM states with time-reversed spin orderings upon magnetic transition. In addition, external electric field breaks$${\cal{P}}{\cal{T}}$$PTsymmetry and enables large NSC response in bilayer AFM MnBi2Te4, which can be switched by external electric field. Remarkably, both MIC and NSC are highly tunable under varying electric field due to the field-induced large Rashba and Zeeman splitting, resulting in large nonlinear photocurrent response down to a few THz regime, suggesting bilayer AFM-zMnBi2Te4as a tunable platform with rich THz and magneto-optoelectronic applications. Our results reveal that nonlinear photocurrent responses governed by NSC, NIC, MSC, and MIC provide a powerful tool for deciphering magnetic structures and interactions which could be particularly fruitful for probing and understanding magnetic topological quantum materials.

    « less