Google's engineers just achieved a milestone in quantum computing: they’ve produced the first completely scalable quantum simulation of a hydrogen molecule.
That’s big news, because it shows similar devices could help us unlock the quantum secrets hidden in the chemistry that surrounds us.
Researchers working with the Google team were able to accurately simulate the energy of hydrogen H2 molecules, and if we can repeat the trick for other molecules, we could see the benefits in everything from solar cells to medicines.
These types of predictions are often impossible for 'classical' computers or take an extremely long time – working out the energy of something like a propane (C3H8) molecule would take a supercomputer in the region of 10 days.
To achieve the feat, Google's engineers teamed up with researchers from Harvard University, Lawrence Berkeley National Labs, UC Santa Barbara, Tufts University, and University College London in the UK.