Researchers from D-Wave Systems and the Vector Institute demonstrated the simulation of a topological phase transition—the subject of the 2016 Nobel Prize in Physics—in a fully programmable D-Wave 2000Q™ annealing quantum computer. This complex quantum simulation of materials is a major step toward reducing the need for time-consuming and expensive physical research and development.
This breakthrough work was published in Nature in August 2018: “Observation of topological phenomena in a programmable lattice of 1,800 qubits”
This phenomenon is called a Kosterlitz-Thouless (KT) phase transition, the discovery of which led Kosterlitz and Thouless to be awarded the 2016 Nobel Prize in Physics. This phase transition is crucial to understanding the emergence of superconductivity and superfluidity in thin films, and has been observed in many exotic physical systems, for example BoseEinstein quasicondensates. It can be described in terms of the existence and interaction of topological defects—vortices and antivortices—and their effect on the free energy of a system with an angular degree of freedom.
In this research, this phenomenon is demonstrated in the transverse-field Ising model, the quantum model that D-Wave processors were designed to implement.
This simulation and the recent simulation of a 3D lattice on 2,048 qubits in a D-Wave processor exhibit a degree of complexity and programmability that is far beyond anything that has previously been demonstrated in the field of quantum computing.