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Quantum impossibility is made possible using ‘exotic’ mathematics

Berislav Buca has developed a new theory that enables the calculation of the dynamics, i.e., movements and interactions, of systems with enormous quantities of quantum particles.

This feat was previously thought to be impossible. The research, published in the journal Physical Review X, has reinvigorated an old and fundamental scientific question: Can we predict everything by calculating its smallest particles?

“Many physics disciplines are ultimately about explaining and predicting the world by understanding the laws of physics and calculating the behavior of the smallest particles,” says Buca, a researcher at the University of Copenhagen’s Niels Bohr Institute.

“In principle, we would be able to answer any possible question about how all sorts of things behave if we were able to,” Buca noted.

Complexity of quantum particles

Despite the potential of this research, Buca quickly appeals for caution. “Of course I can’t do that,” says the theorist.

The interactions and movements of quantum particles in their systems are so complex that even the world’s most powerful supercomputer today is only able to perform calculations on a dozen of these particles at a time.

“So in practice, it isn’t possible. Not currently. However, my theory is a significant step in the right direction,” Buca explained.

“This is because it takes a kind of mathematical shortcut to understanding the dynamics of the whole, without computing power being lost in the details for a broad class of systems with many quantum particles. That is, without the need to calculate all of the individual particles in a system,” he continued.

Proving a long-held hypothesis

Buca’s theory has already made a name for itself by providing the first mathematical proof of a long-held hypothesis in theoretical physics.

The eigenstate-thermalization hypothesis, which concerns the ability of mathematics to describe the motions of quantum systems as wholes, had been an assumption — an educated guess — in physics that had yet to be explained mathematically.

Quantum particles as keys to revolutionary technologies

While the results mainly interest the bright minds of physics for now, the consequences could eventually be great for us all.

This knowledge could end up showing the way to sought for quantum materials with properties so unique that they could transform our world.

“We are looking for a material for quantum computers that can withstand entropy — a law of nature that causes complex systems — e.g., materials — to decay into less complex forms. Entropy destroys the coherence needed for quantum computers to be stable and keep working,” Buca explains.

Simplifying quantum systems with exotic math

The exotic math systems that initially inspired Buca and made his research breakthrough possible may be just what a quantum computer needs to be truly useful.

“The so-called qubits that a quantum computer theoretically works with must be in a state of superposition to function, meaning that they are simultaneously turned on and off — in common phrasing,” Buca says.

“This requires them to be in a stable quantum state. However, thermodynamics does not like the structures required by the current materials. My theory may be able to inform us whether these exotic systems can be a way of structuring things so this quantum state could be more permanent,” he concluded.

Road map for quantum particle discoveries

Buca’s method is a bit like a road map that can guide researchers across a vast landscape of possible materials by allowing for predictions of how these materials would behave under experimental conditions.

For the first time, this gives researchers a way to target their search for quantum materials equipped with special properties.

“Until now, the hunt for these materials has been governed by chance. But my results can, for the first time, provide a guiding principle to navigate by when searching for unique properties in materials,” says Buca.

Dawn of a potential new era in quantum physics

In summary, Berislav Buca’s mind-bending theory opens up new possibilities in the field of theoretical physics and quantum computing.

By providing a mathematical shortcut to calculate the dynamics of quantum systems, Buca has proven a long-held hypothesis and paved the way for targeted searches of quantum materials with unique properties.

This research could lead to the development of stable quantum computers and room-temperature superconductors, revolutionizing our understanding of the universe and transforming our world.

As scientists continue to explore the implications of this breakthrough, we stand at the precipice of a new era in quantum physics, eagerly anticipating the exciting discoveries and innovations that lie ahead.

The full study was published in the journal Physical Review X.


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