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Novel hybrid scheme speeds the way to simulating nuclear reactions on quantum computers

Novel hybrid scheme speeds the way to simulating nuclear reactions on quantum computers
A depiction of the collision of two neutrons simulated on a quantum chip at the Advanced Quantum Testbed. Credit: S. Quaglioni (adapted from the Lawrence Berkely National Laboratory Advanced Quantum Testbed web site).

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

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

Research, published in Physical Review A, combined conventional computers and quantum computers to significantly accelerate the prospects of solving this problem.

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

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

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

In this hybrid approach, the time evolution of the particles' spatial coordinates is carried out on a classical processor, while the evolution of their spin variables is carried out on quantum hardware. The researchers demonstrated this hybrid scheme by simulating the scattering of two neutrons at the 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 this project studied, the results suggest that a generalization of the present hybrid scheme may provide a promising pathway for simulating quantum scattering experiments with a quantum .

Leveraging future quantum platforms with longer coherence times and higher quantum gate fidelities, the hybrid algorithm would enable the robust computation of complex important for astrophysics and technological applications of nuclear science.

More information: F. Turro et al, Demonstration of a quantum-classical coprocessing protocol for simulating nuclear reactions, Physical Review A (2023). DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevA.108.032417

Journal information: Physical Review A

Citation: Novel hybrid scheme speeds the way to simulating nuclear reactions on quantum computers (2024, May 13) retrieved 25 May 2024 from https://phys.org/news/2024-05-hybrid-scheme-simulating-nuclear-reactions.html
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