Quantum computers are in theory capable of simulating the interactions of molecules at a level of detail far beyond the capabilities of even the largest supercomputers today. Such simulations could revolutionize chemistry, biology and materials science, but the development of quantum computers has been limited by the ability to increase the number of quantum bits, or qubits, that encode, store and access large amounts of data.
In a paper published in the Journal of Applied Physics, a team of researchers at the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) and Honeywell International have demonstrated a new device that allows more electrodes to be placed on a chip – an important step that could help increase qubit densities and bring us one step closer to a quantum computer that can simulate molecules or perform other algorithms of interest.
“To write down the quantum state of a system of just 300 qubits, you would need 2^300 numbers, roughly the number of protons in the known universe, so no amount of Moore”s Law scaling will ever make it possible for a classical computer to process that many numbers,” said Nicholas Guise, a GTRI research scientist who led the research. “This is why it”s impossible to fully simulate even a modest sized quantum system, let alone something like chemistry of complex molecules, unless we can build a quantum computer to do it.”