By IQT News posted 05 Nov 2021

(GlobeNewsWire) Rigetti Computing, a pioneer in full-stack quantum computing, has been selected to lead a quantum simulation project for fusion energy awarded by the Department of Energy (DoE). Rigetti will collaborate with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and the University of Southern California on the three-year, $3.1 million project that will simulate plasma dynamics on Rigetti’s cloud-based quantum computers.

Fusion energy research seeks to harness the same nuclear reactions that power the sun as an alternative source of clean, safe, and abundant energy. The funding is part of an initiative sponsored by the Office of Fusion Energy Sciences (FES) to further the scientific understanding of plasma physics, the science underpinning fusion energy. Advancing the predictive capabilities needed to develop a sustainable energy source from fusion plasmas could ultimately create important economic, environmental, and national security benefits.

“The pursuit of fusion energy is one of the most challenging programs of scientific research and development that has ever been undertaken. Because the fusion mission is so computationally intensive, partnering with Rigetti will bring their quantum computing resources to bear on research designed to help create a path towards a safe, clean, and environmentally sustainable future,” says Patricia Falcone, Deputy Director for Science and Technology at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.
Under the program, the team will apply quantum information science and quantum computing techniques to plasma simulation. The project also aims to characterize quantum computing’s ability to exceed classical processing for this type of application.
“Rigetti quantum computers are ideal for this type of work where computational speed is the current bottleneck to progress. By combining our fast superconducting quantum processors with the high-performance co-processing and unique programming capabilities available on Rigetti Quantum Cloud Services, the project team can approach the underlying fusion models using powerful capabilities like hybrid quantum-classical solvers and advanced compiler optimizations,” said Matt Reagor, Director of Engineering for Rigetti.
The joint research will develop and apply quantum computing in ways expected to advance the fields of fusion energy and quantum information science. One outcome of this project will be the first exploration of carefully engineered multi-qubit gates and interactions for simulating plasma dynamics on a quantum computer. The project will also develop and apply control pulse engineering and dynamic error suppression techniques that are expected to enable long duration simulations with high effective gate depth.
The initiative will leverage and extend QUIL and associated programming libraries, such as Quil-T. QUIL is an open-source quantum instruction language for hybrid quantum-classical computing originally developed by Rigetti. Quil-T is its time-domain pulse programming extension. These advanced quantum programming tools will be made available to users through the company’s Quantum Cloud Services platform and are expected to benefit other quantum computing application areas in addition to fusion energy science.
The project was selected for contract award by competitive peer review under the DOE Funding Opportunity Announcement for Quantum Information Science Research for Fusion Energy Sciences and a companion National Laboratory Announcement.

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