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IBM Achieves Quantum Computing Breakthrough With Fewer Qubits, Simulates Molecules to Find Next-Gen Batteries
February 24, 2021 News


It seems like even though quantum computing technology is still being actively developed, IBM was still able to achieve a significant milestone through its Q Valencia, a premium-access 5-qubit quantum computer.

Whilst only using the computer’s 4 quantum bits or qubits, IBM, along with Mercedes-Benz’ parent company Daimler AG, has simulated the ground-state energies and the dipole moments of the molecules that could form in lithium-sulfur batteries during operation: lithium hydride (LiH), hydrogen sulphide (H2S), lithium hydrogen sulphide (LiSH) and the desired product, lithium sulphide (Li2S).

“We used a quantum computer to model the dipole moment of three lithium-containing molecules, which brings us one step closer [to] the next-generation lithium-sulfur (Li-S) batteries that would be more powerful, longer-lasting and cheaper than today’s widely used lithium-ion batteries”, explained IBM in a blog.

The main aim of such research is to test the abilities of quantum computers in simulating complex tasks that traditional computers are unable to do. In this case, looking for the perfect chemistry to realise next-gen batteries especially for cars or automobiles.

With the superposition state of qubits, quantum computers can explore all the possible variations of a bit at the same time, enabling exponentially faster and more efficient computing.

Using such technology, researchers at Daimler hope that quantum computers will help them design next-generation lithium-sulfur batteries, as they have the potential to compute and precisely simulate the batteries’ fundamental behaviour.

However, IBM said that quantum computers are still very ‘noisy,’ meaning that any outside disturbance knocks the fragile qubits out of the quantum states crucial for the calculation too early for them to run meaningful computations. Still, the technology is already showing great promise in chemistry, towards precisely simulating complex molecules.

IBM is also planning to expand its quantum computers with more qubits, with as many as 1,121 qubits by 2023 with IBM’s Condor.

“As we improve the state of qubits, we’ll increase quantum volume and the machines will become exponentially more powerful. So while we haven’t yet achieved quantum advantage, this type of research is the foundational work that will eventually get us there”, concluded IBM.