(Engineer.co.uk) Dr Steve Brierley, CEO of Cambridge-based quantum computing software developer Riverlane, explains that the answer to the billion-dollar quest for quantum usefulness is based on a mundane-sounding realisation: being quantum systems themselves, quantum computers excel at simulating other quantum systems.
If quantum computers are to beat conventional computers on a useful chemistry problem, quantum computing researchers need to engage with computational chemists to find problems of relevance, and customise hardware and software to these specific cases. This exchange between communities is beginning to happen. More and more pharmaceutical and materials companies are engaging with quantum computing.
Quantum mechanics is one of the most successful theories of physics – it predicts properties of materials such as their colour or how well they conduct electricity, and the movement of molecules as they approach a protein, for example. Quantum computers could simulate electrons in atoms and molecules exponentially faster than classical computers and bring a sea change to how researchers in industry and academia design new materials or drugs. With R&D budgets in the billions of dollars, these applications are significant.