Scientists use quantum computers to simulate quantum materials

Researchers are taking an important step in making quantum computers more efficient.

Quantum computers promise to revolutionize science by enabling calculations that were once considered impossible. But for quantum computers to become a daily reality, there is still a long way to go and many difficult tests must pass.

One of the tests involves the use of quantum computers to simulate material properties for next-generation quantum technologies.

In a new study from the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory and the University of Chicago, researchers performed quantum simulations of spin defects, which are specific impurities in materials that could provide a promising basis for new quantum technologies. The study improved the accuracy of quantum computing calculations by correcting for noise introduced by quantum hardware.

“We want to learn to use the new computer technologies that are booming. Developing robust strategies in the early days of quantum computation is an important first step in understanding how to use these machines efficiently in the future. – Giulia Galli, Argonne and University of Chicago

The research was conducted as part of the Midwest Integrated Center for Computational Materials (MICCoM), a DOE computer materials science program headquartered in Argonne, as well as Q-NEXT, a national center for computer science research. quantum information from the DOE.

“The reasons we perform this kind of simulations are to gain a basic understanding of material properties and also to tell test leaders how they can possibly design materials better for new technologies,” says Giulia Galli, professor at Pritzker School. of Molecular Engineering and the Department. in Chemistry from the University of Chicago, Principal Investigator at Argonne National Laboratory, Q-NEXT Collaborator and Director of MICCoM. “The experimental results obtained for quantum systems are often quite complex and can be difficult to interpret. Having a simulation is important to help interpret experimental results and then come up with new predictions. »

While quantum simulations have long been performed on traditional computers, quantum computers may be able to solve problems that even the most powerful traditional computers cannot solve today. Achieving that goal is still unknown as researchers around the work continue efforts to build and use quantum computers.

“We want to learn how to use the new computer technologies that are emerging,” said Galli, lead author of the article. “Developing robust strategies in the early days of quantum computers is an important first step in being able to understand how to use these machines efficiently in the future.”

Study of spin defects offers a real system for validating the possibilities of quantum computers.

“The vast majority of calculations with quantum computers these days are on model systems,” Galli said. “These models are interesting in theory, but simulating real material of experimental interest is more valuable to the entire scientific community.”

Performing calculations of the properties of materials and molecules on quantum computers runs into a problem not encountered with a classical computer, a phenomenon known as material noise. Noisy calculations return slightly different answers each time a calculation is performed; a noisy add operation can return slightly different values ​​of 4 each time for the question “What is 2 plus 2?” “.

“The uncertainty of the measurement depends on the quantum hardware,” said Argonne researcher Marco Govoni, co-author of the study. “One of the results of our work is that we were able to correct our simulations to compensate for the noise we encountered on the hardware.”

Understanding how to handle noise in quantum computers for realistic simulations is an important finding, said University of Chicago graduate student Benchen Huang, lead author of the study.

“We can predict that in the future we may have silent quantum computation – learning to eliminate or eliminate noise in our simulation will also teach us whether quantum benefits can become a reality and for what problems in materials science…”

Ultimately, according to Galli, the revolutionary potential of quantum computers will motivate more work in this direction.

“We’re just started,” she said. “The road ahead looks to be filled with exciting challenges. »

Source of the story:

Materials supplied by DOE / Argonne National Laboratory. Originally written by Jared Sagoff. Note: The content can be edited for style and length.

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