Professor Paul Hess of Middlebury College will discuss how understanding magnetic particles' interactions can help unravel the physics of exotic materials like high-temperature superconductors. It is known that such systems are governed by the laws of quantum mechanics, but when many quantum particles start interacting, the physics gets messy and hard to predict. To better understand these complicated systems, Hess and his colleagues built a quantum magnet from the ground up, using trapped and levitated atomic ions.
Hess will discuss how they used this experimental platform to realize a new phase of matter called a discrete time crystal. These time crystals are a kind of self-stabilizing clock, a behavior which could be turned on and off by changing the interactions between the magnetic spins in the trapped ion crystal.