Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Digital Quantum Simulator Realized

The physicists of the University of Innsbruck and the Institute for Quantum Optics and Quantum Information (IQOQI) in Innsbruck have come considerably closer to their goal to investigate complex phenomena in a model system.

They have realized a digital, and therefore, universal quantum simulator in their laboratory, which can, in principle, simulate any physical system efficiently. Their work has been published in the online issue of the journal Science.

The mathematical description of the phenomenon to be investigated is programmed by using a series of laser pulses to perform a quantum calculation with atoms. Graphic: H. Ritsch

Almost two years ago Rainer Blatt’s and Christan Roos‘ research groups from the University of Innsbruck recreated the properties of a particle moving close to speed of light in a quantum system. They encoded the state of the particle into a highly cooled calcium atom and used lasers to manipulate it according to equations proposed by the famous quantum physicist Paul Dirac. Thereby, the scientists were able to simulate so called Zitterbewegung (quivering motion) of relativistic particles, which had never been observed directly in nature before. In the current work, the physicists use a digital approach instead of the previous analogue approach, and this universal digital quantum simulator can potentially be programmed to simulate any physical system efficiently. “We show in our experiment that our method works and that we can virtually recreate and investigate many systems,” explains Benjamin Lanyon from the Institute of Quantum Optics and Quantum Information (IQOQI) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences. “When we want to study another phenomenon, we only need to reprogram our simulator.”

The quantum computer at its best

The Innsbruck physicists use the building blocks of a quantum computer for the simulation. The mathematical description of the phenomenon to be investigated is programmed by using a series of laser pulses to perform a quantum calculation with atoms. Laser-cooled and electrically trapped calcium atoms are used as carriers of quantum bits (qubits). “We encode the desired initial state of the system to be investigated in these qubits and implement the operation sets by laser pulses,“ explains Christian Roos. He and his colleagues have demonstrated this method in two experiments at the IQOQI and the University of Innsbruck using up to 100 gates and 6 qubits. “One of the new scientific results is that interactions and dynamics can be simulated that are not even present in the quantum computer,“ says the enthused Benjamin Lanyon. He is convinced that this will be one of the most promising applications of a future quantum computer. “However, we still need a considerably higher number of quantum bits. This means that we need to be able to control and manipulate considerably more atoms – up to 40 – in the same exact way as we did in our experiment,“ says Lanyon.

First confirmation of approach

Physical phenomena are often described by equations, which may be too complicated to solve. In this case, researchers use computer simulations as a model to investigate open questions. Because this strategy is not feasible even for relatively small quantum systems due to the lack of the processing power of classical computers, the American physicist Richard Feynman proposed to simulate these phenomena in quantum systems experimentally. In 1996 the theorist Seth Lloyd confirmed the feasibility of this approach: Quantum computers can be programmed to efficiently simulate any physical system. A precondition for this approach is to have complete control over the technology and set-up of the simulator. This has already been achieved by Rainer Blatt’s successful research group working on quantum computers over the last few years. Based on this groundwork, the physicists have now been the first to experimentally realize a quantum simulator.

The scientific work published in Science has been supported by the Austrian Science Fund, the European Commission and the Federation of Austrian Industries Tyrol.

Publication: Universal digital quantum simulation with trapped ions. BP Lanyon, C Hempel, D Nigg, M Müller, R Gerritsma, F Zähringer, P Schindler, JT Barreiro, M Rambach, G Kirchmair, M Hennrich, P Zoller, R Blatt, CF Roos. Science Express 1 September 2011. DOI: 10.1126/science.1208001

Christian Roos and Ben Lanyon
Institute for Quantum Optics and Quantum Information
Austrian Academy of Sciences
Phone: +43 512 507-4728
Email: /
Christian Flatz
Public Relations
University of Innsbruck
Phone: +43 512 507-32022
Cell: +43 676 8725 32022

Dr. Christian Flatz | Universität Innsbruck
Further information:

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Move over, lasers: Scientists can now create holograms from neutrons, too
21.10.2016 | National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

nachricht Finding the lightest superdeformed triaxial atomic nucleus
20.10.2016 | The Henryk Niewodniczanski Institute of Nuclear Physics Polish Academy of Sciences

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>