Two atoms flying through background of 1s and 0s

Quantum Simulations of Fundamental Interactions (QFun)

The quest to understand the fundamental building blocks of nature, and how they behave, has driven science for centuries. The understanding we have gained has enabled us to control matter at its most basic levels and develop technologies critical to our everyday lives.

We are just beginning to understand the quantum behaviour of elementary processes and the fundamental attributes of our universe. While numerical simulations have been pivotal in enhancing our understanding of subatomic physics, they are restricted in their predictive capabilities due to inherent limitations of classical computers to simulate quantum properties.

There is thus an urgent need to find new simulation methods to address many open fundamental questions, including:

  • Why does the universe appear as we see it today?
  • Why is there more matter than antimatter, and hence, why do we exist?
  • What happens inside neutron stars?
  • What exactly happened during the big bang?
  • What happens in heavy ion collisions?
  • What is the nature of dark matter?

The rapid developments now occurring with quantum technologies, which exploit the exotic properties of quantum mechanics, represent an enormous scientific opportunity on which this initiative will capitalize. The Quantum Simulations of Fundamental Interactions (QFun) Initiative, a joint venture of Perimeter Institute and the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo, will bring together researchers and disciplines to tackle major questions in these areas. 

In particular, members of the initiative will develop new techniques for quantum simulations of quantum field theories, which are the backbone of our description of the fundamental forces in nature and underlie the Standard Model of particle physics. Achieving this goal requires a highly interdisciplinary effort drawing together experts on computer science, applied mathematics, quantum information, tensor networks, atomic and superconductor experiments, as well as subatomic physics.

The initiative will pursue a systematic program, developing novel methods with the goal to ultimately simulate the Standard Model, as well as related systems in condensed matter physics. Our initiative brings together experts from all the relevant fields to tackle this problem.

Scientific leadership: Christine Muschik, Associate Faculty member, Perimeter Institute and the Institute for Quantum Computing at the University of Waterloo.