Quantum computing on an everyday PC

Jun 27, 2007

Scientists have successfully simulated a collision of two laser beams from an atom laser using an everyday desktop computer.

Professor Peter Drummond, from the Australian Research Centre of Excellence for Quantum-Atom Optics at The University of Queensland, and Dr Piotr Deuar, from Van der Waals Zeeman Institute in Holland, have achieved this using an everyday PC rather than a supercomputer.

“Such raw calculations have commonly been assumed intractable, once the number of atoms approaches even a few dozen,” Professor Drummond said.

“This is because the complexity of the mathematical description grows rapidly with the number of atoms.”

The research recently appeared in the prestigious US journal Physical Review Letters receiving an editor's commendation as being of special interest.

“Up until now, approximations have been essential in obtaining any predictions for macroscopic quantum mechanical systems, like lasers or superconductors,” Professor Drummond said.

“We have now succeeded in simulating the collision of two beams from an atom laser, each with hundreds of thousands of particles.

“This is a major accomplishment, because one of the main arguments for the task of developing quantum computers has been that they might be able to tackle this type of problem, if built.

“The method used is to randomly sample the complexity of moving between adjacent points in time with a specially tailored "random walk", rather than following all the tiny details.

Professor Drummond said there was a catch though, with the randomness eventually swamping everything and the simulation must be stopped.

“However, the time before this happens is long enough to discover the way that large numbers of atoms interact at ultra-low temperatures,” he said.

“Since quantum computers are still in the future, the approach of using smarter computer software on existing computers seems the only way to make progress on such frontier problems in physics at the present time.”

Professor Drummond said the resulting predictions are being tested in the latest experiments underway in Paris and at The Australian National University.

Source: University of Queensland

Explore further: Sensitive detection method may help impede illicit nuclear trafficking

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Researchers extend Einstein's work

Dec 20, 2005

A University of Queensland research team has celebrated the end of the Einstein International Year of Physics by developing a ground-breaking theory based on work originated by the great scientist.

Nobel Prize-Winner Confirms UQ Quantum Physics Theory

Jun 02, 2004

A novel quantum theory developed by University of Queensland, Australia researchers has been confirmed by recent experiments at a Nobel Prize-winning lab. Professor Bill Phillips’ Nobel Prize-winning group at the US N ...

Recommended for you

Device turns flat surface into spherical antenna

Apr 14, 2014

By depositing an array of tiny, metallic, U-shaped structures onto a dielectric material, a team of researchers in China has created a new artificial surface that can bend and focus electromagnetic waves ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

CERN: World-record current in a superconductor

In the framework of the High-Luminosity LHC project, experts from the CERN Superconductors team recently obtained a world-record current of 20 kA at 24 K in an electrical transmission line consisting of two ...

Glasses strong as steel: A fast way to find the best

Scientists at Yale University have devised a dramatically faster way of identifying and characterizing complex alloys known as bulk metallic glasses (BMGs), a versatile type of pliable glass that's stronger than steel.

Low Vitamin D may not be a culprit in menopause symptoms

A new study from the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) shows no significant connection between vitamin D levels and menopause symptoms. The study was published online today in Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopa ...

Astronomers: 'Tilt-a-worlds' could harbor life

A fluctuating tilt in a planet's orbit does not preclude the possibility of life, according to new research by astronomers at the University of Washington, Utah's Weber State University and NASA. In fact, ...