(Microsoft) Matthias Troyer , Distinguished Scientist, has penned this recent must-read Microsoft Research blog.
Troyer explains that the question emerges that is both scientific and philosophical in nature: once a quantum computer scales to handle problems that classical computers cannot, what problems should we solve on it?
Quantum researchers at Microsoft are not only thinking about this question—we are producing tangible results that will shape how large-scale quantum computer applications will accomplish these tasks.
We have begun creating quantum computer applications in chemistry, and they could help to address one of the world’s biggest challenges to date: climate change.
Microsoft has prioritized making an impact on this global issue, and Microsoft Quantum researchers have teamed up with researchers at ETH Zurich to develop a new quantum algorithm to simulate catalytic processes. In the context of climate change, one goal will be to find an efficient catalyst for carbon fixation—a process that reduces carbon dioxide by turning it into valuable chemicals. One of our key findings is that the resource requirements to implement our algorithm on a fault-tolerant quantum computer are more than 10 times lower than recent state-of-the-art algorithms. These improvements significantly decrease the time it will take a quantum computer to do extremely challenging computations in this area of chemistry.
The research presented in this post is evidence that rapid advances in quantum computing are happening now—our algorithm is 10,000 times faster than the one we created just three years ago. By gaining more insight into how quantum computers can improve computational catalysis, including ways that will help to address climate change while creating other benefits, we hope to spur new ideas and developments on the road to creating some of the first applications for large-scale quantum computers of the future.