Quantum computing researchers need access to different types of quantum hardware, whether digital quantum processing units (QPUs), also known as gate-based, or analog devices capable of solving specific difficult problems. solve with conventional computers.
Amazon Braket, the quantum computing service of AWS, continues to deliver on its commitment to providing that choice by releasing Aquila, shown in Figure 1 below, a new 256-qubit QuEra Computing atom-neutral QPU. As a special-purpose device designed to solve optimization problems and simulate quantum phenomena in nature, it allows researchers to explore a new analog paradigm of quantum computing.
Analog simulation of Hamiltonians
The QuEra QPU is the first device available on Amazon Braket capable of performing a quantum computing paradigm known as Analog Hamiltonian Simulation (AHS). AHS refers to the ability to encode a problem of interest into a mathematical object known as the Hamiltonian. The Hamiltonian represents the energy levels of a quantum system such as interacting spins on a lattice. The computer is then set up to directly simulate the continuous-time evolution of the quantum system under this Hamiltonian.
In traditional gate-based quantum computers, users can program gates that act directly on qubits. Quantum processors such as the Oxford Quantum Circuits or the Rigetti devices on Amazon Braket work this way, with qubits made up of the ground and excited states of an anharmonic oscillator. QuEra’s QPU works by trapping atoms with lasers, placing them in programmable one- or two-dimensional arrangements, and inducing interatomic interactions via van der Waals forces.
The qubit is made up of the ground state of the atom and a highly excited state, called the Rydberg state. By exciting atoms from the ground state to the excited state, the QuEra QPU is able to achieve a phenomenon known as Rydberg blockade, whereby the quantum states of neighboring qubits are fixed by the state of a qubit of control. In addition, clients can dynamically adjust motor field parameters, thereby controlling qubit states and their interactions.
What can be done with the QuEra QPU?
The QuEra QPU is a special-purpose device, which trades the ability to perform universal or gate-based calculations for the ability to efficiently solve specific tasks. The flexibility of the arrangement of atoms and the tunability of optical controls allow Aquila to realize a rich class of Hamiltonians. Customers can explore the static and dynamic properties of quantum states under these Hamiltonians by adiabatic or diabatic quantum evolution. To date, the Hamiltonian realized by the QuEra QPU has already been used to study several scientific questions of interest in condensed matter and quantum many-body physics. One such example is the observation of the emergence of a spin liquid phase, a state of matter with a non-local topological order. These phases are difficult to study numerically because of the size of the systems needed to demonstrate the non-local order. QuEra’s QPU allows customers to program complex lattice geometries such as Kagome’s lattice with up to 256 qubits, a system size large enough to explore these new states.
“Special-purpose analog quantum devices are likely to outperform classical computing for direct simulation of other quantum systems before we achieve a fault-tolerant universal quantum computer.“said Ignacio Cirac, Director and Head of the Theory Division at the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics (MPQ).”Within MPQ’s Theory Division, we are excited about the launch of the QuEra device on Amazon Braket which allows our team of researchers to experiment and pursue new ideas in the field of analog quantum simulation.“
Aquila users are not restricted to specific lattice geometries, nor the arrangement of qubits in a regular pattern, as shown in Figure 2 above. In addition to strongly correlated multiparticle systems, scientists have been able to show that neutral atom processors such as Aquila are suitable for arranging atoms in graphical patterns and solving certain combinatorial optimization problems. Specifically, these machines can code the Maximum Independent Set (MIS) problem, which has wide applications in optimization, such as resource allocation, network design, and others.
The MIS problem can be viewed as a variational problem that can be computed using iterative optimization cycles combining a hybrid of quantum and classical operations. With the launch of the QuEra QPU on Amazon Braket, researchers can leverage Amazon Braket’s hybrid jobs to study hybrid algorithms using Aquila.
How to start
More than forty years ago, Richard Feynman proposed harnessing quantum computers to simulate nature on a quantum scale. Aquila, the neutral atom QPU available on Amazon Braket, does exactly that: it uses an intrinsically quantum system, atoms on a tunable lattice, to solve specific problems that interest a large community of researchers. Aquila is now available in the Northern Virginia region (us-east-1), and can be accessed using the same Amazon Braket SDK and APIs that you use to access other QPUs. Build your AHS program locally or via Jupyter grs notebooks.
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