• Tue. Nov 28th, 2023

    Critical Thought

    Critical thoughts on quantum technologies

    New Article:

    ByThemba Hadebe

    Nov 16, 2023
    New Article:

    Quantum Technology Sheds Light on Long-Held Chemical Mysteries

    Chemical dynamics, the rapid processes that occur within molecules, have long been a subject of fascination for scientists. However, due to their lightning-fast timescales, directly observing these processes has proven to be a major challenge. This is where quantum technology comes into play.

    Through innovative research, a team of quantum researchers from the School of Physics and the School of Chemistry have made a groundbreaking discovery in the field of chemical dynamics. By utilizing a trapped-ion quantum computer in a unique manner, the researchers were able to slow down a chemical process by an astonishing factor of 100 billion.

    The focal point of this breakthrough lies in a phenomenon known as a conical intersection. These geometric structures are commonly found in chemistry and play a vital role in processes such as human vision and photosynthesis. However, directly observing conical intersections has been a scientific endeavor since the 1950s.

    With the help of their quantum computer, the research team successfully observed the interference pattern of a single atom caused by a conical intersection. The significance of this achievement cannot be understated, as it provides invaluable insights into the rapid photochemical processes that occur in nature.

    “In nature, these processes unfold within femtoseconds, which is equivalent to one quadrillionth of a second,” explains Ms. Olaya Agudelo from the School of Chemistry. “By employing our quantum computer, we managed to extend the timescale of these chemical dynamics from femtoseconds to milliseconds. This unprecedented feat allowed us to make meaningful observations and measurements – something that has never been accomplished before.”

    The research findings of this quantum-enabled experiment have been published today in Nature Chemistry, solidifying its significance within the scientific community. With the ability to slow down chemical processes to a more manageable timescale, quantum technology opens up new avenues for exploration and understanding in the field of chemistry.

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

    Q: What is a conical intersection?

    A: A conical intersection is a geometric structure commonly found in chemistry. It plays a crucial role in various rapid chemical processes, including light harvesting in human vision and photosynthesis. It is an area where energy surfaces intersect, resulting in interesting and complex phenomena.

    Q: How did the research team slow down the chemical process?

    A: The research team achieved the remarkable task of slowing down a chemical process by a factor of 100 billion by utilizing a trapped-ion quantum computer. By mapping the complicated problem onto a relatively small quantum device, they were able to extend the timescale of the process from femtoseconds (one quadrillionth of a second) to milliseconds, allowing for meaningful observations and measurements.

    Q: Why is this achievement significant?

    A: This achievement is significant because it provides scientists with a new tool to study and understand the rapid processes that occur within molecules. By being able to slow down these processes, previously unobservable phenomena can now be examined and analyzed, leading to a deeper understanding of chemistry.

    Q: What are the implications of this research?

    A: The implications of this research are far-reaching. Quantum technology opens up new possibilities for studying chemical dynamics and exploring the intricate processes within molecules. It has the potential to advance various fields, including materials science, biology, and pharmacology, by providing insights into fundamental chemical mechanisms.

    Q: Where can I find more information about the research findings?

    A: The research findings have been published in Nature Chemistry. You can find more detailed information in the publication itself. (URL: nature.com)