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Journal Article

Time-crystalline behavior in an engineered spin chain


Schäfer,  Robin
Max Planck Institute for the Physics of Complex Systems, Max Planck Society;

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Schäfer, R., Uhrig, G. S., & Stolze, J. (2019). Time-crystalline behavior in an engineered spin chain. Physical Review B, 100(18): 184301. doi:10.1103/PhysRevB.100.184301.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0005-8CA4-4
Time crystals break the discrete time translational invariance of an external periodic drive by oscillating at an integer multiple of the driving period. In addition to this fundamental property, other aspects are often considered to be essential characteristics of a time crystal, such as the presence of disorder or interactions, robustness against small variations of system parameters, and the free choice of the initial quantum state. We study a finite-length polarized XX spin chain engineered to display a spectrum of equidistant energy levels without drive and show that it keeps a spectrum of equidistant Floquet quasienergies when subjected to a large variety of periodic driving schemes. Arbitrary multiples of the driving period can then be reached by adjusting parameters of the drive, for arbitrary initial states. This behavior is understood by mapping the XX spin chain with N + 1 sites to a single large spin with S = N/2 invoking the closure of the group SU(2). Our simple model is neither intrinsically disordered nor is it an interacting many-body system (after suitable mapping), and it does not have a thermodynamic limit in the conventional sense. It does, however, show controllable discrete time translational symmetry breaking for arbitrary initial states and a degree of robustness against perturbations, thereby carrying some characteristic traits of a discrete time crystal.