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Richard Feynman first proposed the concept of quantum computing in the 1970s. Today, Quantum computing has become a reality and is one of the hottest and most sought-after technologies. It is expected to help humanity in all fields, including fighting climate change. So let us know how quantum computing can fight climate change.
Quantum Computing is one of the most exciting subjects that shows promising and diverse applications in the future. For example, any Marvel fan will be able to recognize the theory of multi-verses, and quantum computers can prove that theory – according to physicist David Deutsch, a quantum computer could perform tasks in parallel universes and then share the results accordingly.
But many questions arise when we hear the terms quantum computing. So, let us understand the basics of quantum computing – its principles, applications, and future.
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What are Quantum Principles?
Firstly, we must understand that quantum physics deals with the study of energy and matter at the most basic level, i.e., atoms, molecules, and their components – electrons, protons, neutrons, and quarks, also known as qubits.
This means that when compared to traditional computers, which use a binary code that can either be 0 or 1, quantum computers use qubits as the basic unit. Qubits can exist as 0 and 1 at the same time. This characteristic allows enormous amounts of information to be stored and processed simultaneously.
This principle is the main reason why quantum computers could vastly outperform traditional supercomputers. Next, let’s see what quantum computers can do.
What do Quantum Computers do?
Quantum computers are those computers that utilize the quantum mentioned above principles to function. They use these principles to store and compute data much more efficiently than supercomputers.
Wherever there is a large number of possible combinations, quantum computers can examine all the possibilities at the same time instead of doing them one by one. This can be highly beneficial, efficient, and time-saving as compared to traditional computers.
VQE (Variational Quantum Eigensolver) is an important principle that is used in quantum computing. This principle uses a combination of traditional computers and quantum computers to find the best combination out of all the possibilities mentioned above. In this principle, quantum computers are used to find the energy readings only while all other tasks are performed by traditional computers.
While quantum computing is still a relatively new field, tech giants such as IBM, Microsoft, and Google have already built or are building quantum computers. For example, IBM released one of the giant quantum computers in the world in September 2020. Similarly, Amazon has also launched multiple programs focused on quantum computing, such as Amazon Braket, Amazon Quantum Solutions Lab, and AWS Center for Quantum Computing.
Quantum Computing is predicted to have vast applications in the coming years, ranging from predicting finance, drug, and material research and helping to fight climate change.
Quantum Computing to Combat Climate Change
As climate change is a subject that includes many different sectors, the use of quantum computing for climate change is a topic that is slowly gaining traction. Let us look at some recent initiatives that show quantum computing can fight climate change.
Q4Climate is an initiative that joins research and industries concerning quantum computers and climate science. The initiative aims to identify the most promising uses of quantum technologies and find practical solutions using different techniques such as quantum simulation.
Quantum simulation refers to the prediction of the behaviour of a system consisting of molecules. It is one of the many promising research areas of quantum computing. For example, Q4Climate’s initial report says that quantum simulation could help create better materials for alternative technologies such as solar cells and wind turbines. It could also reduce the high power required for the manufacture of fertilizers, a process that takes up 2% of the energy globally.
Another use of quantum simulation could be the creation of improved catalysts that speed up chemical reactions – the faster the reactions, the less energy and resources would be consumed. Better catalysts could also perform the function of carbon capture, a technique that is said to be the best way to tackle carbon dioxide emissions.
Quantum computing could also be used to efficiently produce hydrogen by accelerating the electrolysis process. Two companies, Shell and IonQ, have already started working on this, and in 2019, IonQ successfully calculated the behaviour of a water molecule using their quantum computer.
As of today, there are a few reasons why quantum computing is not as mainstream as supercomputers. Quantum computers are highly sensitive as they deal with atoms and their sub-particles. So, any disturbance in the surroundings, such as heat, electromagnetic fields, and collisions, could cause the whole system to crash.
Slowly but steadily, scientists have begun to solve the setbacks of quantum computers. For instance, new research conducted at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory indicates that magnets could help qubits stay coupled for longer.
Thus, we can conclude that quantum computing is a very promising technology that might revolutionize how our world operates. It has potential applications in almost every important field, such as artificial intelligence, weather forecasting, cleaner fertilization, advanced drug development, improved batteries, fighting climate change, and more. All of this could lead to a better Earth for our future generations.
Dr. Emily Greenfield is a highly accomplished environmentalist with over 30 years of experience in writing, reviewing, and publishing content on various environmental topics. Hailing from the United States, she has dedicated her career to raising awareness about environmental issues and promoting sustainable practices.