Researchers from the Centre for Quantum Technologies at NUS (CQT) teamed up with scientists at Google to successfully simulate the pattern of ‘Hofstader’s butterfly’ — a fractal structure characterising the splits and shifts of an electron’s energy levels with changes in magnetic field strength — using photons in Google’s quantum chip.
This success demonstrates how quantum simulators — special-purpose quantum computers — can offer new ways of studying quantum phases of matter, as well as different kinds of complex quantum behaviour. This opens up the possibility of simulating — and potentially, engineering — materials with novel electronic conduction properties.
"We've always had this idea that we can use photons to simulate and better understand nature. Our collaboration puts this into practice," says Associate Professor Dimitris Angelakis, a Principal Investigator at CQT and a corresponding author on the paper.
The results of the study were published in Science on 1 December.
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