Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Quantum Computers Could Excel In Modeling Chemical Reactions

Date:
November 21, 2008
Source:
Harvard University
Summary:
Quantum computers would likely outperform conventional computers in simulating chemical reactions involving more than four atoms, according to scientists. Such improved ability to model and predict complex chemical reactions could revolutionize drug design and materials science, among other fields.

Quantum computers would likely outperform conventional computers in simulating chemical reactions involving more than four atoms, according to scientists at Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Haverford College. Such improved ability to model and predict complex chemical reactions could revolutionize drug design and materials science, among other fields.

Writing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers describe "software" that could simulate chemical reactions on quantum computers, an ultra-modern technology that relies on quantum mechanical phenomena, such as entanglement, interference, and superposition. Quantum computing has been heralded for its potential to solve certain types of problems that are impossible for conventional computers to crack.

"There is a fundamental problem with simulating quantum systems -- such as chemical reactions -- on conventional computers," says Alαn Aspuru-Guzik, assistant professor of chemistry and chemical biology in Harvard's Faculty of Arts and Sciences. "As the size of a system grows, the computational resources required to simulate it grow exponentially. For example, it might take one day to simulate a reaction involving 10 atoms, two days for 11 atoms, four days for 12 atoms, eight days for 13 atoms, and so on. Before long, this would exhaust the world's computational power."

Unlike a conventional computer, Aspuru-Guzik and his colleagues say, a quantum computer could complete the steps necessary to simulate a chemical reaction in a time that doesn't increase exponentially with the reaction's complexity.

"Being able to predict the outcomes of chemical reactions would have tremendous practical applications," says Ivan Kassal, a graduate student in chemical physics at Harvard. "A lot of research in drug design, materials science, catalysis, and molecular biology is still done by trial and error. Having accurate predictions would change the way these types of science are done."

The researchers demonstrate in PNAS that quantum computers would need to attain a size of about 100 qubits -- which are to quantum computers as bits are to conventional computers -- to outperform current classical supercomputers at a chemical simulation.

"This is still far beyond current prototype quantum computers," Kassal says. "And although it might take millions of quantum elementary operations on a few hundred quantum bits, our work suggests that with quantum computers that are as fast as modern conventional computers, one could simulate in seconds a chemical reaction that would take a conventional computer years."

Rather than using binary bits labeled as "zero" and "one" to encode data, as in a conventional computer, quantum computing stores information in qubits, which can represent both "zero" and "one" simultaneously. When a quantum computer is put to work on a problem, it considers all possible answers by simultaneously arranging its qubits into every combination of "zeroes" and "ones."

Since one sequence of qubits can represent many different numbers, a quantum computer would make far fewer computations than a conventional one in solving some problems. After the computer's work is done, a measurement of its qubits provides the answer.

Aspuru-Guzik and Kassal's co-authors on the PNAS paper are Stephen P. Jordan of MIT, Peter J. Love of Haverford College, and Masoud Mohseni of Harvard. The work was sponsored by the Army Research Office and the Joyce and Zlatko Balokovic Scholarship.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Harvard University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Harvard University. "Quantum Computers Could Excel In Modeling Chemical Reactions." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 November 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081120130601.htm>.
Harvard University. (2008, November 21). Quantum Computers Could Excel In Modeling Chemical Reactions. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081120130601.htm
Harvard University. "Quantum Computers Could Excel In Modeling Chemical Reactions." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081120130601.htm (accessed August 28, 2014).

Share This




More Computers & Math News

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Hackerspace Provides Hackers Creative Haven

Hackerspace Provides Hackers Creative Haven

AP (Aug. 27, 2014) — HeatSync Labs, a so-called hackerspace in Mesa, Arizona provides members and the public alike a space to allow their creative juices to flow and make their tech dreams into a reality. (Aug 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Why A 12.9-Inch iPad Would Make Sense For Apple

Why A 12.9-Inch iPad Would Make Sense For Apple

Newsy (Aug. 27, 2014) — There are two big knocks against the iPad — productivity limits and slumping sales. Here's how a bigger iPad could fix both of Apple's problems. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Smartphone App Tracks Your Heart Rate

Smartphone App Tracks Your Heart Rate

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) — A new app that can track your heart rate 24/7 is available for download in your app store and its convenience could save your life. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Nationwide Time Warner Internet Crash Results In More Bad PR

Nationwide Time Warner Internet Crash Results In More Bad PR

Newsy (Aug. 27, 2014) — The nationwide Internet crash resulted in millions of customers' internet connection to go out for hours. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins