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Journal Articles New J.Phys. Year : 2020

Classical Hamiltonian time crystals–general theory and simple examples

Jin Dai
  • Function : Author
Xubiao Peng
  • Function : Author


We focus on a Hamiltonian system with a continuous symmetry, and dynamics that takes place on a presymplectic manifold. We explain how the symmetry can become spontaneously broken by a time crystal, that we define as the minimum of the available mechanical free energy that is simultaneously a time dependent solution of Hamilton’s equation. The mathematical description of such a timecrystalline spontaneous symmetry breaking builds on concepts of equivariant Morse theory in the space of Hamiltonian flows. As an example we analyze a general family of timecrystalline Hamiltonians that is designed to model polygonal, piecewise linear closed strings. The vertices correspond to the locations of pointlike interaction centers; the string is akin a chain of atoms, that are joined together by covalent bonds, modeled by the links of the string. We argue that the timecrystalline character of the string can be affected by its topology. For this we show that a knotty string is usually more timecrystalline than a string with no self-entanglement. We also reveal a relation between phase space topology and the occurrence of timecrystalline dynamics. For this we show that in the case of three point particles, the presence of a time crystal can relate to a Dirac monopole that resides in the phase space. Our results propose that physical examples of Hamiltonian time crystals can be realized in terms of closed, knotted molecular rings.

Dates and versions

hal-02634720 , version 1 (27-05-2020)



Jin Dai, Antti J. Niemi, Xubiao Peng. Classical Hamiltonian time crystals–general theory and simple examples. New J.Phys., 2020, 22 (8), pp.085006. ⟨10.1088/1367-2630/aba8d3⟩. ⟨hal-02634720⟩
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