Researchers at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory of the Department of Energy have developed a benchmark for quantum chemistry simulation intending to evaluate the performance of devices and thus guide the development of quantum computers. The benchmark will offer a new system of evaluation of quantum processors, helping the scientific community to evaluate and develop new quantum processors. Their results have been published on npj Quantum Information.

Quantum computers are based on the laws of quantum mechanics, and qubit units are the essential elements and represent the information to be transmitted and processed. Qubits are encoded with values of both 0 and 1, or any combination of these, allowing a large number of possibilities to store data.

It has been demonstrated that quantum systems have the potential to be exponentially more powerful than classical solutions and promise to revolutionize not only materials science but all sectors of industry. As they evolve, quantum computers will be able to perform a wide range of chemistry calculations more accurately and efficiently than any other classical computer currently in operation.

"We are currently running fairly simple scientific problems that represent the sort of problems we believe these systems will help us to solve in the future," said ORNL's Raphael Pooser, principal investigator of the Quantum Testbed Pathfinder project. "These benchmarks give us an idea of how future quantum systems will perform when tackling similar, though exponentially more complex, simulations."

The researchers calculated the state energy of alkaline hydride molecules on IBM Tokyo 20qubit and Aspen 16qubit processors. These molecules are simple, and the study allowed to test the performance of the quantum computer effectively.

By programming the quantum computer according to specific parameters, the team calculated the states of these molecules with chemical precision, which was obtained using simulations on a classical computer.

A systematic error that occurs in these cases can fluctuate the measurement. Quantum computers are incredibly delicate, and temperatures and vibrations from the surrounding environment can create instability. Temperature noise, if not kept low enough, can affect the qubit measurement.

For the next research, the team plans to calculate the exponentially more complex excitation states of these molecules, which will help them devise further new error mitigation schemes and bring the possibility of practical quantum computing one step closer to reality.