Symmetry-breaking dynamical phase transitions (DPTs) abound in the fluctuations of nonequilibrium systems. Here, we show that the spectral features of a particular class of DPTs exhibit the fingerprints of the recently discovered time-crystal phase of matter. Using Doob’s transform as a tool, we provide a mechanism to build classical time-crystal generators from the rare event statistics of some driven diffusive systems. An analysis of the Doob’s smart field in terms of the order parameter of the transition then leads to the time-crystal lattice gas (TCLG), a model of driven fluid subject to an external packing field, which presents a clear-cut steady-state phase transition to a time-crystalline phase characterized by a matter density wave, which breaks continuous time-translation symmetry and displays rigidity and long-range spatiotemporal order, as required for a time crystal. A hydrodynamic analysis of the TCLG transition uncovers striking similarities, but also key differences, with the Kuramoto synchronization transition. Possible experimental realizations of the TCLG in colloidal fluids are also discussed.
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