Breakthrough in Quantum Physics: Successful Simulation of Super Diffusion Achieved

by Klaus Müller
Quantum simulation

Researchers in the field of quantum physics have carried out a successful simulation of super diffusion involving quantum particles, using a quantum computer. This milestone, executed on a 27-qubit system and controlled remotely from Dublin, accentuates the transformative role quantum computing could play in both commercial applications and foundational physics research.

A team of quantum physicists at Trinity College, in collaboration with IBM Dublin, has successfully modeled super diffusion within a system of interacting quantum particles utilizing a quantum computer.

This marks an initial advancement in conducting highly complex quantum transport calculations on quantum hardware. As quantum computing technology evolves, such work is anticipated to yield new perspectives in condensed matter physics and the study of materials.

This research represents one of the initial outcomes of the recently established TCD-IBM predoctoral scholarship program, wherein IBM employs doctoral candidates who receive joint supervision at Trinity College. The study was recently published in the esteemed journal, NPJ Quantum Information.

IBM stands as a world leader in the burgeoning field of quantum computing. The preliminary quantum computer employed for this research is comprised of 27 superconducting qubits—the fundamental units of quantum logic—and is physically situated in IBM’s laboratory in Yorktown Heights, New York, while being remotely programmed from Dublin.

Quantum computing is presently one of the most promising technological advancements and is projected to make strides toward commercial utility in the coming decade. Beyond commercial applications, quantum computing also opens the door to answering profound foundational questions. The Trinity-IBM Dublin team grappled with such a question regarding quantum simulation.

To elucidate the import of this work and the general concept of quantum simulation, Professor John Goold, Director of the recently inaugurated Trinity Quantum Alliance who spearheaded the research, articulated:

“To simulate the dynamics of a complex quantum system composed of multiple interacting constituents is an insurmountable task for traditional computing methods. In this case, involving 27 qubits, the quantum state is mathematically modeled by a construct known as a wave function. Utilizing a conventional computer to articulate this construct necessitates the storage of an immense number of coefficients, which increases exponentially with the number of qubits—amounting to approximately 134 million coefficients in this instance.

When considering systems with around 300 qubits, the number of coefficients required would exceed the number of atoms in the observable universe, rendering classical computers incapable of accurately capturing such a system’s state. This limitation underscores the advantage of using quantum systems to simulate quantum dynamics, a notion originally proposed by Nobel laureate physicist Richard Feynman.”

As to the specific object of their simulation, Professor Goold continued:

“Our focus was on the Heisenberg chain model, a system of minuscule connected magnets referred to as spins, which act as simpler representatives of more complex materials. We were especially intrigued by the long-term behavior of how spin excitations are transferred through the system. In these extended time frames, quantum many-body systems enter into a hydrodynamic phase, and their transport is governed by equations analogous to those describing classical fluids.

We explored a specific condition in which a phenomenon known as super-diffusion takes place, dictated by the Kardar-Parisi-Zhang equation. This equation commonly describes stochastic surface or interface growth phenomena. Remarkably, we confirmed that the same equations arise in quantum dynamics, constituting the primary achievement of this study.”

Nathan Keenan, an IBM-Trinity predoctoral scholar involved in the programming aspect, discussed some of the hurdles of quantum computing:

“One of the most significant challenges in programming quantum computers lies in executing meaningful calculations despite the presence of environmental noise. Due to the sensitivity of the quantum computer to such disturbances, it becomes imperative to minimize the program’s runtime to reduce the window for errors.”

Juan Bernabé-Moreno, Director of IBM Research UK & Ireland, remarked:

“IBM has a long-standing tradition of contributions to the field of quantum computing, including extensive commercial quantum programs and ecosystems. Our collaboration with Trinity College Dublin, manifest through the MSc for Quantum Science and Technology and the PhD program, is a testament to this, and I am thrilled to see the early promising results.”

As we venture into a new phase of quantum simulation, it is comforting to recognize that physicists at Trinity College are leading the way in harnessing the quantum technologies of tomorrow. The Trinity Quantum Alliance, recently inaugurated and directed by Professor John Goold, boasts five initial industrial partners, including IBM, Microsoft, Algorithmiq, Horizon, and Moodys Analytics.

Reference: “Evidence of Kardar-Parisi-Zhang scaling on a digital quantum simulator” by Nathan Keenan, Niall F. Robertson, Tara Murphy, Sergiy Zhuk and John Goold, 20 July 2023, NPJ Quantum Information.
DOI: 10.1038/s41534-023-00742-4

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Quantum simulation

What was the main achievement of the research conducted by Trinity College and IBM Dublin?

The primary accomplishment was the successful simulation of super diffusion in a system of interacting quantum particles using a 27-qubit quantum computer. This lays the groundwork for more advanced quantum transport calculations and has potential implications in condensed matter physics and materials science.

Who were the collaborators on this research project?

The research was a collaborative effort between quantum physicists at Trinity College and IBM Dublin. The project also forms part of the TCD-IBM predoctoral scholarship program, where PhD students are hired as employees by IBM and co-supervised at Trinity College.

Where was the quantum computer located and how was it controlled?

The 27-qubit quantum computer used in this study is physically located in IBM’s laboratory in Yorktown Heights, New York. It was programmed remotely from Dublin.

What are the commercial and foundational implications of this research?

The research underscores the transformative potential of quantum computing in both commercial applications and foundational physics research. It brings us a step closer to answering profound questions in physics and could have implications for future technologies.

What challenges did the researchers face when programming the quantum computer?

The major challenge in programming the quantum computer was executing useful calculations in the presence of environmental noise. The quantum computer is highly sensitive to disturbances, necessitating the minimization of the program’s runtime to reduce the potential for errors.

What equation played a significant role in the research?

The Kardar-Parisi-Zhang equation played a crucial role, particularly in understanding the phenomenon of super diffusion. This equation is generally used to describe stochastic growth phenomena in various systems.

What journal published the research findings?

The research findings were published in the esteemed journal NPJ Quantum Information.

Who is leading the newly established Trinity Quantum Alliance?

Professor John Goold, Director of the Trinity Quantum Alliance, led the research. The alliance has five founding industrial partners including IBM, Microsoft, Algorithmiq, Horizon, and Moodys Analytics.

What is the Heisenberg chain model that the research focused on?

The Heisenberg chain model consists of a system of small connected magnets called spins. The research was particularly interested in the long-term behavior of how spin excitations are transferred across the system.

What is super diffusion and why is it important?

Super diffusion is a specific regime of transport in quantum many-body systems, characterized by faster transport as the system size increases. Understanding this phenomenon could shed new light on condensed matter physics and materials science.

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Emily Williams October 6, 2023 - 3:54 am

This is nuts. I mean, the work with 27 qubits today can possibly lead to solving equations we can’t even imagine rn. The future’s bright!

Steven Clark October 6, 2023 - 4:08 am

Trinity’s Quantum Alliance is looking more promising than ever. With partners like IBM and Microsoft, the sky’s the limit!

Katie Johnson October 6, 2023 - 5:25 am

This just proves how far we’ve come in the field of quantum physics. it’s all so complicated but incredibly exciting at the same time.

John Smith October 6, 2023 - 6:08 am

Wow, this is groundbreaking! Can’t believe they managed to simulate super diffusion on a quantum computer. This is big news people.

Linda Chen October 6, 2023 - 7:08 am

Ah, the Kardar-Parisi-Zhang equation making an appearance. that’s really cool! Connecting quantum to classic stochastic systems is awesome.

Sarah Green October 6, 2023 - 8:53 am

Finally, some real use-cases for quantum computing. Been hearing about its potential for years, good to see real-world applications taking shape.

Michael O'Connor October 6, 2023 - 12:12 pm

Quantum physics always blows my mind. The collaboration between Trinity and IBM is simply astounding, more of this please.

Alan Baker October 6, 2023 - 5:06 pm

so this means quantum computing is finally getting outta the lab and into the real world, right? About time.

Rachel Adams October 6, 2023 - 5:59 pm

Does anyone know how this work is gonna affect commercial applications? Like, are we talking about a revolution here or what?

Henry Lee October 6, 2023 - 8:41 pm

Impressive work. Seriously, the talent at Trinity and IBM is top-notch. Can’t wait to see where this research leads.


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