Google researchers first used a quantum computer to simulate a chemical reaction. The reaction is simple, but it marks an important step toward finding practical use for quantum computers, New Scientist reports.
Because atoms and molecules are systems governed by quantum mechanics, quantum computers are expected to be the best way to accurately simulate them. These computers use quantum bits or qubits to store information and perform calculations. However, quantum computers have difficulty achieving the accuracy needed to simulate large atoms or chemical reactions.
Thus, a team from Google used the company's Sycamore device to perform the first accurate quantum simulation of a chemical reaction. Sycamore reached quantum supremacy in 2019, when it performed a calculation that would be impossible for a classic computer to perform in a defined period of time.
For the latest feature of the computer, the researchers simulated a diazen molecule, which consists of two nitrogen atoms and two hydrogen atoms, which undergo a reaction in which hydrogen atoms move in the configuration The different areas around the azo. The quantum simulation was consistent with the simulations that the researchers performed on classical computers to verify their activity.
Although this reaction may be relative and it is not necessary to have a quantum computer to simulate it, this is still a big step forward for quantum computing, says Ryan Babbush of Google.
“We do quantum calculations of chemistry on a fundamentally different scale,” he says. Ã¢ â¬ ÅPrevious work has consisted of calculations that you can do practically with pencil and paper, by hand, but for the demonstrations we are analyzing now, you will surely have I need a computer to do this, âhe added.
Increasing this algorithm to simulate more complex reactions should be fairly easy, says Babbush: Simulating reactions in larger molecules will simply require more and smaller putties. changes to the calculation. One day, we might even be able to develop new chemicals using quantum simulations, he says.