Research News

Algorithm breakthrough may lead to new applications for quantum computers

Results provide tools to improve quantum computing devices
December 2, 2020

Researchers led by City College of New York physicist Pouyan Ghaemi report the development of a quantum algorithm with the potential to study a class of many-electron quantum systems using quantum computers.

The U.S. National Science Foundation-funded research appears in PRX Quantum.

"Quantum physics is the fundamental theory of nature that leads to the formation of molecules and the resulting matter around us," said Ghaemi. "When we have a macroscopic number of quantum particles, such as electrons in metal that interact with each other, novel phenomena such as superconductivity emerge."

However, until now, according to Ghaemi, tools to study systems with large numbers of interacting quantum particles and their novel properties have been extremely limited.

"Our research has developed a quantum algorithm that can be used to study a class of many-electron quantum systems using quantum computers," Ghaemi said. "Our algorithm opens a new venue to use new quantum devices to study problems that are challenging using classical computers."

Ghaemi noted that "quantum computers have witnessed extensive developments during the last few years. Development of new quantum algorithms will contribute to realizing applications of quantum computers."

Collaborators included scientists at Western Washington University, the University of California, Santa Barbara, Google AI Quantum and the University of Michigan. 

"Just as the quantum behavior this team addresses is complex, the algorithms they developed look very little like familiar computer programs," said David Rabson, a program director in NSF's Division of Materials Research. "It's a feature of the NSF Quantum Algorithm Challenge that projects need to work on today's prototype quantum hardware, not just on the future quantum computers to which these results contribute."