Classical Discrete Time Crystals.
The spontaneous breaking of time-translation symmetry in periodically driven quantum systems leads to a new phase of matter: discrete time crystals (DTC). This phase exhibits collective subharmonic oscillations that depend upon an interplay of non-equilibrium driving, many-body interactions, and the breakdown of ergodicity. However, subharmonic responses are also a well-known feature of classical dynamical systems ranging from predator-prey models to Faraday waves and AC-driven charge density waves. This raises the question of whether these classical phenomena display the same rigidity characteristic of a quantum DTC. In this work, we explore this question in the context of periodically driven Hamiltonian dynamics coupled to a finite-temperature bath, which provides both friction and, crucially, noise. Focusing on one-dimensional chains, where in equilibrium any transition would be forbidden at finite temperature, we provide evidence that the combination of noise and interactions drives a sharp, first-order dynamical phase transition between a discrete time-translation invariant phase and an activated classical discrete time crystal (CDTC) in which time-translation symmetry is broken out to exponentially-long time scales. Power-law correlations are present along a first-order line which terminates at a critical point. We analyze the transition by mapping it to the locked-to-sliding transition of a DC-driven charge density wave. Our work points to a classical limit for quantum time crystals, and raises several intriguing questions concerning the non-equilibrium universality class of the CDTC critical point.
Publisher URL: http://arxiv.org/abs/1801.02628
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