(ZDNet) OTI Lumionics is using quantum inspired algorithms to develop the building blocks for the next-generation of OLED displays for phones and TVs.
“OLED displays are a massive and growing market,” says Helander. “There is a lot of excitement about the technology expanding into laptops and monitors. We see it as an opportunity to innovate when it comes to the convergence of display and sensors,” explained Michael Helander, the CEO and co-founder of this materials design company.
Behind OTI’s innovative product is a so-called “materials discovery platform” – and powering that platform, equally as innovative techniques. “At OTI Lumionics we are developing advanced materials – by design – using quantum simulations, machine learning and real-world testing in pilot production,” proudly states the company’s pitch.
There is a good reason that Helander’s interest in quantum was piqued four years ago: the technology, although still in its infancy, is expected to break new ground in the field of molecular simulation. For the CEO of a company that describes itself as a designer of advanced materials for the electronics sector, that is enough to justify digging deeper.
From early on, Helander’s strategy has consisted of using a computer-based approach to electronic material design. OTI was never equipped with armies of chemists ready to test and trial thousands of different molecular designs in the lab until a winning combination was found. “The way we develop materials has been heavily based on the use of computational techniques in chemical and material design,” explains Helander.
“But it turns out that even state-of-the-art classical computational chemistry, for a lot of these difficult problems, is inadequate,” he continues.
The odds were in favor of quantum-based molecular simulation; and OTI’s chemists started getting excited about the implications but quickly found limiting factor. With less than a hundred qubits currently sitting in most quantum computers, there wasn’t much that could actually be done. “To solve an industrial-sized problem, you need more qubits than will be scientifically feasible in the next ten to 20 years,” says Helander. “But as a small company, we don’t have the resources to invest in a long R&D program of that kind.”
Helender started with a group of theoreticians. “I told them to forget everything they knew about computational chemistry, and imagine a new set of computational chemistry representation to map to a qubit space. What would that look like?”
OTI’s researchers developed a brand-new “qubit coupled cluster method,” adapted specially for quantum systems.
Helander started looking closer at quantum-inspired techniques, a branch of the field that looks at ways to apply quantum-optimized algorithms to classical hardware. With a new set of custom-built, highly efficient quantum algorithms, wondered the CEO, why not try and run the software on regular CPUs and GPUs?