Quantum technology is expected to fundamentally change many key areas of society. Researchers are convinced that there are many more useful quantum properties and applications to explore than we know today. A team of researchers from Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden has developed open source and freely available software that will pave the way for new discoveries in the field and significantly accelerate quantum research.
Within a few decades, quantum technology is expected to become a key technology in areas such as health, communication, defense and energy. The power and potential of this technology lies in the strange and very special properties of quantum particles. The superconducting properties of quantum particles, which give components perfect conductivity and unique magnetic properties, are of particular interest to researchers in this field. These superconducting properties are considered conventional today and have already paved the way for entirely new technologies used in applications such as magnetic resonance imaging equipment, maglev trains and quantum computing components. However, it will still take years of research and development before a quantum computer can solve real computing problems in practice, for example. The research community is convinced that there are many more revolutionary discoveries to be made in the field of quantum technology than those we know today.
Open source code to explore new superconducting properties
Fundamental research into quantum materials is the basis of all quantum technological innovation, from the birth of the transistor in 1947, through the laser in the 1960s to today’s quantum computers. However, quantum materials experiments are often resource-intensive to develop and conduct, take many years to prepare, and mostly produce results that are difficult to interpret. However, a team of Chalmers researchers have developed the open source software SuperConga, free for everyone and specifically designed to perform advanced simulations and analyzes of quantum components. The program works at the mesoscopic level, meaning it can perform simulations that can “capture” the strange properties of quantum particles, and also apply them in practice. The open source code is the first of its kind in the world and is expected to be able to explore completely new superconducting properties and ultimately pave the way for quantum computers capable of using advanced computing to address societal challenges in several areas.
“We are particularly interested in unconventional superconductors, which pose an enigma in how they work and what their properties are. We know that they have certain desirable properties that help protect quantum information from interference and fluctuations. Interference is what which is happening now. prevents us from having a quantum computer that can be used in practice. And this is where fundamental research into quantum materials is crucial if we want to progress,” says Mikael Fogelström, professor of theoretical physics in Chalmers.
These new superconductors remain highly enigmatic materials, just as their conventional siblings once were when they were discovered in the laboratory over a hundred years ago. After this discovery, it would be more than 40 years before researchers could describe them theoretically. Chalmers researchers now hope that their open source code can contribute to completely new discoveries and areas of application.
“We want to discover all the other interesting properties of unconventional superconductors. Our software is powerful, educational and user-friendly, and we hope it will help generate new knowledge and suggest entirely new applications for these unexplored superconductors,” says Patric . Holmvall, postdoctoral researcher in condensed matter physics at Uppsala University.
Desire to make the lives of quantum researchers and students easier
To be able to explore revolutionary new discoveries, tools are needed that can study and utilize extraordinary quantum properties at the minimal particle level, and that can also be scaled up enough to be used in practice. Researchers must work on a mesoscopic scale. This is located at the interface between the microscopic scale, that is to say the atomic level at which the quantum properties of particles can still be exploited, and the macroscopic scale which measures the everyday objects of our world which , unlike quantum particles, are subject to the laws of classical physics. Thanks to the software’s ability to operate at this mesoscopic level, Chalmers researchers now hope to make life easier for researchers and students working in quantum physics.
“Extremely simplified models, based on either the microscopic or macroscopic scale, are often used today. This means that they fail to identify all the important physics or cannot not be used in practice. With this free software, we want to make it easier for others to accelerate and improve their quantum research without having to reinvent the wheel every time,” says Tomas Löfwander, professor of physics quantum applied to Chalmers.