How to turn a Quantum Computer into a Quantum Material

UChicago scientists programmed an IBM quantum computer to become a type of material called an exciton condensate. Photo by Andrew Lindemann/IBM.

Researchers at University of Chicago announced they were able to turn IBM’s largest quantum computer into a quantum material itself.

They programmed the computer such that it turned into a type of quantum material called an exciton condensate, which has only recently been shown to exist. Such condensates have been identified for their potential in future technology, because they can conduct energy with almost zero loss.

Though exciton condensates had been predicted half a century ago, until recently, no one had been able to actually make one work in the lab without having to use extremely strong magnetic fields.

To make an exciton condensate, scientists take a material made up of a lattice of particles, cool it down to below -270 degrees Fahrenheit, and coax it to form particle pairs called excitons. They then make the pairs become entangled—a quantum phenomenon where the fates of particles are tied together. But this is all so tricky that scientists have only been able to create exciton condensates a handful of times.

The team wrote a set of algorithms that treated each of Rochester’s quantum bits as an exciton. A quantum computer works by entangling its bits, so once the computer was active, the entire thing became an exciton condensate.

That means that scientists may use quantum computers as programmable experiments themselves. (HPCWire)

The study has been published in Physical Review Research.

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