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Physicists Successfully Simulate Super Diffusion

by Amelia Ramiro

Quantum physicists at Trinity College Dublin, in collaboration with IBM Dublin, have achieved a significant breakthrough in simulating super diffusion in a system of interacting quantum particles using a quantum computer. This achievement opens up new possibilities for gaining deeper insights into condensed matter physics and materials science.

The research, conducted on a 27-qubit system programmed remotely from Dublin, is part of the TCD-IBM predoctoral scholarship program. This program allows PhD students to work as employees at IBM while being co-supervised at Trinity. The research was recently published in the prestigious journal NPJ Quantum Information.

IBM, a global leader in quantum computation, provided the early-stage quantum computer used in the study. The computer consists of 27 superconducting qubits, which are the building blocks of quantum logic. It is physically located in IBM’s lab in New York and programmed remotely from Dublin.

Quantum computing is an emerging technology that holds immense promise for both commercial applications and fundamental scientific inquiries. The ability to simulate complex quantum systems using quantum computers is seen as one of the most exciting potential applications of this technology. Simulation of quantum dynamics using classical computers is incredibly challenging due to the exponential growth in resources required as the system size increases. However, quantum systems naturally lend themselves to simulating other quantum systems, as they can exploit the wave function description of quantum mechanics.

In this study, the team focused on simulating the long-time behavior of spin chains, which are systems of connected magnets called spins that mimic more complex materials and help understand magnetism. Specifically, they investigated a regime where super-diffusion occurs, governed by the Kardar-Parisi-Zhang equation. This equation describes the stochastic growth of a surface or interface, such as the growth of snow during a snowstorm or the spread of a stain on cloth. Surprisingly, the same equation crops up in quantum dynamics, leading to superdiffusive transport.

Programming quantum computers presents its own set of challenges, primarily due to the presence of noise and disturbances. Minimizing the runtime of a useful program is crucial to mitigate the impact of errors and disturbances on the results.

Juan Bernabé-Moreno, Director of IBM Research UK & Ireland, expressed his satisfaction with the collaboration between IBM and Trinity College Dublin, highlighting IBM’s commitment to advancing quantum computing technology. This collaboration is part of the larger Trinity Quantum Alliance, which aims to drive research in quantum simulation and includes five founding industrial partners: IBM, Microsoft, Algorithmiq, Horizon, and Moodys Analytics.

The successful simulation of super diffusion in a quantum system using a quantum computer represents a significant milestone in the field of quantum computing. It demonstrates the potential of quantum computers to revolutionize our understanding of complex physical phenomena and opens up new avenues for scientific discoveries in condensed matter physics and materials science.

As the world enters a new era of quantum simulation, Trinity’s quantum physicists are at the forefront, programming the devices of the future. Their research is paving the way for further advancements in quantum computing and its applications across various fields.

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