Image representing time-reversal symmetry. Credit: McGinley & Cooper
Aug. 11, 2020 (Phys.org) -- In recent years, physicists worldwide have been conducting studies exploring the characteristics and dynamics of topological phases of matter that could enable the development of quantum devices and other new technologies. Some of these phases are supported by what is known as the time-reversal symmetry (TRS) of microscopic laws of nature.
Researchers at the University of Cambridge have recently demonstrated that some topological phases protected by TRS are fundamentally unstable against coupling to their surrounding environment. Their findings, outlined in a paper published in Nature Physics, highlight a number of challenges that could be associated with the use of topological systems for developing quantum technologies.
"We have been interested in certain phases of matter known as topological phases, which have attracted a great deal of attention recently because of their proposed applications in quantum-based technologies," Max McGinley, one of the researchers who carried out the study, told Phys.org. "In particular, some topological phases are thought to be able to store quantum information in a way that is naturally robust to any imperfections that inevitably arise in experiments, making them potentially useful for quantum computation."