Inside Quantum Technology

Charting a Course Toward Quantum Simulations of Nuclear Physics

( Quantum simulators (which exploit quantum effects like superposition and entanglement) promise to bring their power to bear on many problems that have refused to yield to simulations built atop classical computers—including problems in nuclear physics.
Computational nuclear physicist Zohreh Davoudi, an assistant professor of physics at the University of Maryland (UMD), is collaborating with researchers at JQI to explore how quantum simulations might aid nuclear physicists. They are working to create some of the first maps between the theories that describe the underpinnings of nuclear physics and the early quantum simulators and quantum computers being put together in labs.
Davoudi and several colleagues, including JQI Fellows Chris Monroe and Mohammad Hafezi, designed their approach to making maps with an eye toward compatibility with the quantum technologies on the horizon. Monroe points out that “this is exactly what is needed for the future of quantum computing. This ‘co-design’ of devices tailored for specific applications is what makes the field fresh and exciting.”
The versatility of digital simulations has been world-altering, but a well-designed analog system is often less complex than its digital counterpart. Carefully designed quantum analog simulations might deliver results for certain problems before quantum computers can reliably perform digital simulations. This is similar to just using a wind tunnel instead of programming a computer to model the way the wind buffets everything from a goose to an experimental fighter plane.
“It is not yet clear exactly where quantum computers will be usefully applied,” says Monroe, who is also a professor of physics at UMD and co-founder of the quantum computing startup IonQ. “One strategy is to deploy them on problems that are based in quantum physics.
The authors say that this research is only the beginning of a longer road.

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