A roadmap for the future of quantum simulation – ScienceDaily


A roadmap for the future direction of quantum simulation has been set out in a paper co-authored by the University of Strathclyde.

Quantum computers are enormously powerful devices with a speed and computational capacity far beyond the reach of classical or binary computers. Instead of a binary system of zeros and ones, it works with overlays that can be zeros, ones, or both at the same time.

The ever-evolving development of quantum computing has reached the point where one has an advantage over classical computers when faced with an artificial problem. It could have future applications in a variety of fields. A promising class of problems concerns the simulation of quantum systems, with potential applications such as the development of materials for batteries, industrial catalysis, and nitrogen fixation.

The paper, published in Nature, examines short- and medium-term possibilities of quantum simulation on analog and digital platforms to assess the potential of this field. It was co-written by researchers from Strathclyde, the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics, the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, the Munich Center for Quantum Science and Technology, the University of Innsbruck, the Institute for Quantum Optics and Quantum Information of the Austrian Academy of Sciences and Microsoft Corporation.

Professor Andrew Daley from the Department of Physics at Strathclyde is the lead author of the publication. He said: “There have been many exciting advances in analog and digital quantum simulation in recent years, and quantum simulation is one of the most promising areas of quantum information processing. It is already quite mature, both in terms of algorithm development and in the international availability of significantly advanced analog quantum simulation experiments.

“In computing history, classical analog and digital computing coexisted for more than half a century, with a gradual transition to digital computing, and we expect the same to happen with the advent of quantum simulation.

“As the next step in the development of this technology, it is now important to discuss ‘practical quantum advantage’, the point at which quantum devices will solve problems of practical interest that conventional supercomputers cannot solve.

“Many of the most promising near-term applications of quantum computing fall under the quantum simulation umbrella: modeling the quantum properties of microscopic particles that are directly relevant to understanding modern materials science, high-energy physics and quantum chemistry.

“In the future, quantum simulation should be possible on error-tolerant digital quantum computers with more flexibility and precision, but it can already be carried out model-specifically using special analogue quantum simulators. This is done analogously to study aerodynamics, which can be done either in a wind tunnel or through simulations on a digital computer. While aerodynamics often uses a smaller model to understand something big, analog quantum simulators often take a larger model to understand something to understand even smaller things.

“Analog quantum simulators are now moving from providing qualitative demonstrations of physical phenomena to providing quantitative solutions to native problems. A particularly exciting way forward is the development of a suite of programmable quantum simulators that hybridize digital and analog techniques. This has great potential because it combines the best advantages of both sides by using the native analog operations to create highly entangled states.”

The University of Strathclyde and all partners on this perspective article have large, active programs that include architectural theory and algorithms as well as the development of analog quantum simulation and digital quantum computing platforms. The partners have been collaborating on the Horizon 2020 EU Quantum Technologies flagship project PASQuanS. At Strathclyde, research in this area is heavily embedded in the UK’s national quantum technology program and has received significant funding from UK Research and Innovation.

A quantum technology cluster is embedded in the Glasgow City Innovation District, an initiative being driven by Strathclyde alongside Glasgow City Council, Scottish Enterprise, Entrepreneurial Scotland and the Glasgow Chamber of Commerce. It aims to become a global place for quantum industrialization, attracting companies to consolidate in Strathclyde, accelerate growth, improve productivity and access world-class research technology and talent in Strathclyde.

The University of Strathclyde is the only academic institution to have been a partner in all four EPSRC-funded Quantum Technology Hubs in both phases of funding. The hubs are in: Sensing and Timing; Quantum Enhanced Imaging; quantum computing and simulation, and quantum communication technologies.


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