Amazing! Quantum simulator with 51 qubits beats records
A team from Harvard University, USA, has created a 51-bit quantum simulator – the largest such device so far.
Quantum simulators are used to model the behavior of molecules and other quantum particles, which have elements of very large randomness and complexity, making it very difficult to know how they behave and how they respond to changes in the environment – it is virtually impossible to do a simulation using a classic computer.
And these two examples are just a sample of the numerous applications of these devices still in the early stages of development.
Difference between simulators and quantum computers
Quantum simulators are different from quantum computers.
For example, the 51-qubit simulator was specifically constructed to solve an equation that models the interactions between certain atoms, which means that if it is necessary to solve a different equation, it will be necessary to rebuild the system from scratch.
Quantum computers, on the other hand, are theoretically capable of dealing with any equation – they are “universal computers.”
The simulator works with a high error rate, but since it simulates only a mathematical model, its results are still useful. Quantum computers should achieve much lower error rates, which means they will produce better and more reliable results.
Today’s most advanced quantum systems – like the 49-qubit computer that Google is developing – use superconducting qubits to store information, basically electrons at extremely low temperatures.
In this new simulator, the qubits are made from a single rubidium atom, trapped with lasers and programmed through fluctuations in the laser beam.
While this is much simpler than quantum computers, simulators depend on complex, hard-to-adjust devices, which means they are large and expensive, making it difficult to give them applications outside specialized laboratories – at least for now.
Sources: Probing many-body dynamics on a 51-atom quantum simulator
Hannes Bernien, Sylvain Schwartz, Alexander Keesling, Harry Levine, Ahmed Omran, Hannes Pichler, Soonwon Choi, Alexander S. Zibrov, Manuel Endres, Markus Greiner, Vladan Vuletic, Mikhail D. Lukin