Research ArticlePHYSICS

Simulating complex quantum networks with time crystals

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Science Advances  16 Oct 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 42, eaay8892
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aay8892


Crystals arise as the result of the breaking of a spatial translation symmetry. Similarly, translation symmetries can also be broken in time so that discrete time crystals appear. Here, we introduce a method to describe, characterize, and explore the physical phenomena related to this phase of matter using tools from graph theory. The analysis of the graphs allows to visualizing time-crystalline order and to analyze features of the quantum system. For example, we explore in detail the melting process of a minimal model of a period-2 discrete time crystal and describe it in terms of the evolution of the associated graph structure. We show that during the melting process, the network evolution exhibits an emergent preferential attachment mechanism, directly associated with the existence of scale-free networks. Thus, our strategy allows us to propose a previously unexplored far-reaching application of time crystals as a quantum simulator of complex quantum networks.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, so long as the resultant use is not for commercial advantage and provided the original work is properly cited.

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