Scientists use quantum computers to simulate quantum materials

Scientists reach important milestone in making quantum computing more effective.

Quantum computers promise to revolutionize science by enabling calculations once thought impossible. But before quantum computers become a daily reality, there is still a long way to go and many challenging tests to pass.

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

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

“We want to learn how to use new computational technologies that are emerging. Developing robust strategies in the early days of quantum computing 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 computational materials science program headquartered in Argonne, as well as Q-NEXT, a DOE National Quantum Information Science Research Center.

“The reasons we do this kind of simulation is to get a fundamental understanding of material properties and also to tell experimenters how to ultimately design materials for new technologies better,” said Giulia Galli, a professor at the Pritzker School of Science. Molecular Engineering and the Department of Chemistry at the University of Chicago, senior scientist at Argonne National Laboratory, Q-NEXT associate and director of MICCoM. “Experimental results obtained for quantum systems are often quite complex and perhaps difficult to interpret. Having a simulation is important to help interpret experimental results and then make new predictions.”

Although quantum simulations have been performed on traditional computers for a long time, quantum computers may be able to solve problems that even today’s most powerful traditional computers cannot solve. Achieving that goal remains to be seen as researchers continue to build and use quantum computers around the work

“We want to learn how to use new computational technologies that are emerging,” said Galli, lead author of the paper. “Developing robust strategies in the early days of quantum computing is an important first step in understanding how to use these machines efficiently in the future.”

Looking at spin defects provides a realistic system for validating the capabilities of quantum computers.

“The vast majority of computations with quantum computers today 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 encounters a problem not experienced with a classical computer, a phenomenon known as hardware noise. Noisy calculations give slightly different answers each time a calculation is performed; a noisy addition operation can yield values ​​slightly different from 4 each time for the question “What is 2 plus 2?”.

“The uncertainty in the measurement depends on the quantum hardware,” said Argonne scientist Marco Govoni, co-lead author of the study. “One of the feats 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 deal with the noise in quantum computers for realistic simulations is an important achievement, said Benchen Huang, a graduate student of the University of Chicago, the study’s lead author.

“We can anticipate that in the future we will have noiseless quantum computing — learning how to eliminate or cancel the noise in our simulation will also teach us whether quantum advantage can become a reality and for what problems in materials science.”

According to Galli, the groundbreaking potential of quantum computers will eventually lead to more work in this direction.

“We’re just getting started,” she said. “The road ahead looks full of exciting challenges.”

Story source:

materials supplied by DOE/Argonne National Laboratory† Originally written by Jared Sagoff. Note: Content is editable for style and length.

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