Novel hybrid scheme speeds up simulations of nuclear reactions on quantum computers


This article has been reviewed in accordance with Science X's editorial process and policies. The editors have highlighted the following features, ensuring the reliability of the content:

fact checking

peer-reviewed publications

reliable source

amend


Illustration of a collision of two neutrons simulated on a quantum chip on the Advanced Quantum Testbed. Credit: S. Quaglioni (adapted from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Advanced Quantum Testbed web site).

to close


Illustration of a collision of two neutrons simulated on a quantum chip on the Advanced Quantum Testbed. Credit: S. Quaglioni (adapted from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Advanced Quantum Testbed web site).

The nuclear reactions that power stars and create elements emerge from the interactions of quantum mechanical particles, protons and neutrons. Explaining these processes is one of the most challenging unsolved problems in computational physics.

As the mass of colliding nuclei increases, the resources required to model them exceed even the most powerful conventional computers. Quantum computers could perform the necessary calculations. However, they currently fall short of the required number of reliable and long-lasting quantum bits.

Research, published in Physical Review ABy combining traditional computers and quantum computers, the possibilities of solving this problem greatly increased.

The researchers successfully used a hybrid computing scheme to simulate the scattering of two neutrons. This opens the way to calculating nuclear reaction rates that are difficult or impossible to measure in the laboratory. These include reaction rates that play a role in astrophysics and national security.

The hybrid scheme will also help simulate the properties of other quantum mechanical systems. For example, it could help researchers study the scattering of electrons with quantized atomic vibrations called phonons, a process that underlies superconductivity.

A team of scientists from the University of Washington, the University of Trento, the Advanced Quantum Testbed (AQT), and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory proposed a hybrid algorithm for simulating the (real-time) dynamics of quantum mechanical systems of particles.

In this hybrid approach, the time evolution of the particles' spatial coordinates is performed on a classical processor, while the evolution of their spin variables is performed on quantum hardware. The researchers demonstrated this hybrid scheme by simulating the scattering of two neutrons at AQT.

The demonstration validated the principle of the proposed co-processing scheme after implementing error mitigation strategies to improve the accuracy of the algorithm and adopting theoretical and experimental methods to elucidate the loss of quantum coherence.

Even with the simplicity of the demonstration system studied by this project, the results suggest that generalization of the current hybrid scheme could provide a promising route for simulating quantum scattering experiments with quantum computers.

Taking advantage of future quantum platforms with long coherence times and high quantum gate fidelity, the hybrid algorithm will enable robust calculations of complex nuclear reactions important for technological applications in astrophysics and nuclear science.

more information:
F. Turo et al., Demonstration of quantum-classical co-processing protocols for the simulation of nuclear reactions, Physical Review A (2023). DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevA.108.032417

Journal Information:
Physical Review A


Leave a Comment