Spontaneous breaking of a discrete time-translation symmetry

J. Smits, H. T.C. Stoof, P. Van Der Straten*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Spontaneous symmetry breaking is a ubiquitous concept and is well described in many textbooks of physics. However, direct observation of spontaneous symmetry breaking is lacking. Here we present the observation and analysis of a spontaneously broken discrete time-translation symmetry in our driven system. We experimentally find a 50-50 split between two stable and temporal-distinct solutions, indicative of the breaking of a Z2 (Ising-like) time-translation symmetry. The experiment allows for further exploration of the symmetry breaking in our discrete time crystal and for engineering excitations in space and time in the quantum domain.

Original languageEnglish
Article number023318
Number of pages8
JournalPhysical Review A
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 20 Aug 2021


  • Bose-einstein condensation


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