Physicists invent flux capacitor, break time-reversal symmetry

May 28, 2018, FLEET
An electronic circulator keeps information moving in a certain direction, much like a roundabout. (But in a circulator, ‘traffic’ must  always take the next exit after they enter.)

In the popular movie franchise "Back to the Future", an eccentric scientist creates a time machine that runs on a flux capacitor.

Now a group of actual physicists from Australia and Switzerland have proposed a device which uses the tunneling of around a capacitor, breaking time-reversal symmetry.

The research, published this week in Physical Review Letters, proposes a of electronic circulators, which are devices that control the direction in which microwave signals move.

It represents a collaboration between two Australian Research Council Centres of Excellence: the Centre for Engineered Quantum Systems (EQUS) and the Centre for Future Low-Energy Electronics Technologies (FLEET).

FLEET Associate Investigator Professor Jared Cole (working at RMIT University) said the proposed device is built from a superconductor, in which electricity can flow without electrical resistance.

Professor Cole added, "We propose two different possible circuits, one of which resembles the iconic three-pointed-star design of the cinematic flux capacitor. (See images.)

"In it, quantum 'tubes' of magnetic flux can move around a central capacitor by a process known as , where they overcome classically insurmountable obstacles."

Schematic representation of the proposed circulator. Credit: FLEET

The combination of magnetic fields and electric charges leads to what the physicists call broken .

"Unfortunately this effect does not allow us to actually travel back in time," Professor Tom Stace (University of Queensland) said.

"Instead, it means that signals circulate around the circuit in only one direction, much like cars on a roundabout," he said.

Such a device can be used for example to isolate parts of an experimental apparatus from each other, which is crucial when the individual parts are extremely sensitive quantum systems.

Lead author Dr Clemens Mueller (ETH Zurich) said this device is a crucial component for next-generation technologies, including the long sought-after quantum computer.

Dr Mueller said, "Our research makes an important step towards scaling up this technology, where researchers need to precisely direct control and measurement signals around a quantum computer."

Physicists invent flux capacitor, break time-reversal symmetry
The operation of the microwave circulator resembles the flux capacitor from Back to the Future. Credit: FLEET

In the nearer term, the research could find application in the development of better electronics for mobile phone and wifi antennas and improving radar.

The paper, "A passive on-chip, superconducting circulator using a ring of tunnel junctions," was published in Physical Review Letters on 23 May 2018.

The two participating ARC Centres of Excellence form part of Australia's significant strength in quantum research.

The ARC Centre of Excellence for Engineered Quantum Systems (EQUS) researchers are building quantum machines that harness the full spectrum of quantum physics.

The ARC Centre of Excellence in Future Low-Energy Electronics Technologies (FLEET) is developing a new generation of ultra low-energy electronics to address the increasing challenge of energy use in computation.

Explore further: New quantum device set to support measurement standards of the electrical current

More information: Clemens Müller et al. Passive On-Chip Superconducting Circulator Using a Ring of Tunnel Junctions, Physical Review Letters (2018). DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.120.213602

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17 comments

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humy
3.7 / 5 (3) May 28, 2018
Oh do they really have to use the term "flux capacitor"?
Ryan1981
not rated yet May 28, 2018
"Unfortunately this effect does not allow us to actually travel back in time,"


Is it really unfortunate though?
antialias_physorg
4.9 / 5 (11) May 28, 2018
Oh do they really have to use the term "flux capacitor"?

Why not? It uses flux and it's a capacitor...and, of course, almost all scientists are huge SciFi nerds.

Scientists are allowed to have fun, too. My favorite is the "penguin anomaly"...which only exists because some physicist lost a game of darts and had to use the word 'penguin' in their next publication as a result.

https://www.quant...0150320/
SkyAbove
5 / 5 (2) May 28, 2018
The scientist better hurry, the price of Delorean cars are going to skyrocket because of this article.
rrwillsj
1 / 5 (2) May 28, 2018
Whoa Nelly! Back this cart up. Somebody forgot to attach the pony between the shafts. So far only mere wishful thinking is available to pull the damn thing!

If you only read the clickbait headline and the first two paragraphs of the article? The gullible would assume this was a done deal and when can they drive it.

Did someone mention a pony could be found at the bottom of that manure pile? If you dig heartedly? I suspect what we will find is a sweaty ass holding the shovel.
axemaster
5 / 5 (6) May 28, 2018
Scientists are allowed to have fun, too. My favorite is the "penguin anomaly"...which only exists because some physicist lost a game of darts and had to use the word 'penguin' in their next publication as a result.

https://www.quant...0150320/


Thank you for this, I got a good laugh out of it!
BubbaNicholson
1 / 5 (2) May 29, 2018
I actually invented the flux capacitor for Stevie Spielberg. I called it a flux compressor because I couldn't remember "capacitor" until later.
rrwillsj
1 / 5 (2) May 31, 2018
That's okay BN. You could always go back in time and fix your mistake.

Any day now...

Yep. Right about then.

Whoops! You were traveling so fast, you forgot to stop on the right date. Has Friar Serra shown up yet?

Oh, I'm sure he'll be by any year now. May as well relax and chill out man. Enjoy the indigenous ambience. It won't last much longer.
ZoeBell
1 / 5 (1) Jun 01, 2018
device which uses the quantum tunneling of magnetic flux around a capacitor, breaking time-reversal symmetry
Every device breaking time reversal symmetry is potential perpetuum mobile. It's worth to note many overunity devices claimed utilize magnetic field rotating or switching its path (MEG) rather than orientation (which would generate backward electromotoric force, which should be avoided).
434a
not rated yet Jun 01, 2018
For those of us not living a Münchhausenian psychosis here's the actually "inventor" of the flux capacitor in interview.

https://www.drivi...pacitor/
rrwillsj
1 / 5 (3) Jun 02, 2018
434a, is anything on the internet real? Or is it all defined by entertainment value for selling over-priced crappy merchandise to the passive viewers?
savvys84
1 / 5 (1) Jun 04, 2018
Well time machines are not that far away imo.

https://www.scrib...savvys84
sascoflame
1 / 5 (1) Jun 04, 2018
Time reversal the religion of scientists.
ZoeBell
1 / 5 (1) Jun 04, 2018
Time indeed cannot be reversed completely but it believe it can be slowed or speed up locally a bit. For example EMDrive is claimed to emanate radiation (warp field) which accelerates spreading of light around it a bit. The similar effect can be reportedly demonstrated inside the scalar field diode between bucking coils or magnets. Such a magnets were even reported to fall slower than normal massive body.
ZoeBell
1 / 5 (1) Jun 04, 2018
The aetherists of 19th century (including young Einstein) imagined magnetic field like the swirling vacuum, which speed up the motion inside atoms and energy transfer. This effect is nearly exactly balanced by E=mc^2 theorem, which also makes the vacuum more dense at this place. Therefore the magnets don't visibly affect the vacuum - the largest experiment which sought after it turned negative. But pair of electromagnets with opposite poles each other may not completely compensate the vacuum vorticity, thus allowing subtle warp field there. Also the vacuum inside fast rotating cylinder or laser beams may get centrifugated into warp field. But rotating charged bodies would have stronger effect, because vacuum gets dragged by charged particles more.
ZoeBell
1 / 5 (1) Jun 04, 2018
Because vacuum gets dragged by charged particles the more the faster they move, particularly strong vacuum drag should be observable during rotation of bodies, which already contain fast moving electrons, like the superconductors and topological insulators. This is physical basis of Podkletnov/Poher and Tajmar experiments with warp field around rotating charged superconductor disks. I believe the experiments with rotating capacitors charged to a high voltage or stationary capacitors inside magnetic field should provide similar results even without these exotic materials.
SURFIN85
not rated yet Jun 04, 2018
Once again, life imitates art

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