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Special purpose quantum computers in integrated photonics

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Modelling the dynamics of quantum mechanical systems, including molecules, is generally an intractable problem for classical computers. However, as proposed by Feynman, the exponential computational overheads associated with these simulations may be overcome by utilising a controllable quantum system that can be programmed to mimic the quantum behaviour of a model of interest. Integrated photonics has been established as a platform for quantum information processing. Recent progress in integrated photonics includes programmable circuitry, the integration of photon sources, and single photon detection. Together with high-speed and low-loss photonic switches, a versatile class of photonic quantum simulators becomes a realistic prospect. It is possible that the demands on error correction for specialised quantum computers, such as quantum simulators, could be much lower than those for universal digital quantum computers. For photonics, it is believed that a quantum simulator that can generate and process more than 50 pure photons will significantly outperform a supercomputer. I will discuss experimental demonstrations of quantum photonics as a simulation platform for molecular quantum dynamics. I will cover recent developments in integrated quantum photonics that will help us scale these simulation devices. And I will cover classical emulations techniques that provide important benchmarks.

This talk is part of the Cavendish Quantum Colloquium series.

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