(Phys.org) A team of quantum theorists at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) seeking to cure a basic problem with quantum annealing computers—they have to run at a relatively slow pace to operate properly—found something intriguing instead. Although our discovery did not the cure the annealing time restriction, it brought a class of new physics problems that can now be studied with quantum annealers without requiring they be too slow,” said Nikolai Sinitsyn, a theoretical physicist at LANL. While probing how quantum annealers perform when operated faster than desired, the team unexpectedly discovered a new effect that may account for the imbalanced distribution of matter and antimatter in the universe and a novel approach to separating isotopes.
Significantly, this finding hints at how at least two famous scientific problems may be resolved in the future. The first one is the apparent asymmetry between matter and antimatter in the universe.
Another long-standing problem that can benefit from this effect is isotope separation. For instance, natural uranium often must be separated into the enriched and depleted isotopes, so the enriched uranium can be used for nuclear power or national security purposes.