So, we have the periodic table. We know that atoms combine into molecules depending on their energy spectrum, its energy levels. We know quantum physics, the theory that reigns in the atomic regime.We know math. We know quite a lot, actually.
So, we want to create new chemicals. Having new materials would give us new technologies, having new molecules would provide us with new medicines, saving millions of lives.
How come it is so hard to use what we know to get what we want?
The problem is that atoms have many electrons, and you have to calculate the equations for each electron. But, electrons interact with other, the solution of the equations of one depend on the solutions of the equations of the other. The solutions are interconnected, coupled. This is know as the many body problem. This makes solving the equations very hard.
Although we know what to do to calculate the energy of a complicated molecule, we can’t actually do it. It takes too long, even for a computer. Computers get faster every year, but they don’t get fast fast enough for the problem. Making the molecule just a bit more complicated demands us to have a computer much much much more powerful than for one a bit simpler. In other words, the problem of solving the energy of a molecule doesn’t “scale” well.
Unlike a conventional computer, Aspuru-Guzik and his colleagues say, a quantum computer could complete the steps necessary to simulate a chemical reaction in a time that doesn’t increase exponentially with the reaction’s complexity.
What is a quantum computer? How is it different from other computers? What tricks can it do to solve chemical reactions faster than a normal computer?
This blog is about those questions and more. Stay tuned.