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Quantum computer simulates superconductors

Quantum simulation
A 2,048-qubit D-Wave 2000Q processor, shown in the lower half of this image, was used to simulate the behavior of a quantum magnetic system depicted in the upper half. (D-Wave Systems Illustration)

One of the prime applications for quantum computers is to simulate natural quantum phenomena, and in a newly published study, researchers from Canada’s D-Wave Systems have demonstrated how to do it.

The phenomenon that they simulated involves a topological phase transition associated with thin-film superconductivity and superfluidity. It’s called the Kosterlitz-Thouless phase transition, and figuring out how the transition could be done earned Brown University’s Michael Kosterlitz and the University of Washington’s David Thouless shares of the 2016 Nobel Prize in physics.

Today Kosterlitz hailed the quantum computer simulation, which is described in a paper published by Nature.

“This paper represents a breakthrough in the simulation of physical systems which are otherwise essentially impossible,” Kosterlitz said in a D-Wave news release. “The test reproduces most of the expected results, which is a remarkable achievement.”

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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