Quantum computing could help develop more efficient solar panels

Researchers from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, armed with the advanced capabilities of the Quantinuum H1-1 quantum computer, have delved into the intriguing realm of singlet fission—a phenomenon where a molecule absorbs light and generates two excited states. Their study focused on a linear H4 molecule, composed of four hydrogen atoms in a straight line, and they confirmed that its energetic levels align with the requirements for singlet fission. This discovery could have implications for more efficient solar panel design, as singlet fission has the potential to surpass the efficiency limits of conventional solar cells.

To delve into the complex quantum states involved in singlet fission, the researchers turned to the PDS quantum solver, which offers higher accuracy than density functional theory and is well-suited to leverage the power of quantum computers. The unique way quantum computers handle quantum correlations made them a natural fit for understanding this phenomenon.

Access to the Quantum Computing User Program at the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility provided the researchers with the Quantum H1-1 computer, developed by Quantinuum. This quantum computer uses qubits that can represent both 1 and 0 simultaneously, exponentially increasing processing power for certain calculations, albeit with higher error rates.

To overcome these errors, the research team employed innovative strategies. They reduced computational workload by utilizing qubit tapering, measuring groups of terms together, and running multiple circuits in parallel. These techniques not only increased efficiency but also made the computations feasible within a reasonable time frame.

While their project showcased the potential of quantum computers to tackle intricate scientific problems, the lead researcher, Daniel Claudino, emphasized the importance of wider adoption of their approaches. He highlighted that these techniques could prevent the squandering of quantum resources and the introduction of errors in simulations. Although singlet fission might not be their immediate focus, the team aims to apply similar quantum computing techniques to explore other complex problems, further demonstrating the capabilities and advantages of quantum computing in the realm of scientific research.

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