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DE-SC0024622: Quantum Simulation For Nuclear Physics: From Few to Many

Award Status: Active
  • Institution: North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC
  • UEI: U3NVH931QJJ3
  • DUNS: 042092122
  • Most Recent Award Date: 09/17/2023
  • Number of Support Periods: 1
  • PM: Rai, Gulshan
  • Current Budget Period: 08/01/2023 - 07/31/2024
  • Current Project Period: 08/01/2023 - 07/31/2026
  • PI: Schaefer, Thomas
  • Supplement Budget Period: N/A

Public Abstract

Quantum Simulation for Nuclear Physics: From Few to Many

Thomas Schäfer, Sebastian König

North Carolina State University

Martin Zwierlein

Massachusetts Institute of Technology


This project will employ quantum simulation to study problems of interest to nuclear physics. The laws of quantum mechanics are encapsulated in the Schrödinger equation, which governs the wave function. For a system of many particles the wave function is exceedingly complex, and the difficulty of solving the Schrödinger equation on a classical computer grows exponentially with the number of particles. In nuclear physics, this problem limits our ability to predict the behavior of finite nuclei and of the dense matter at the core of neutron stars. One recent approach to overcoming this challenge is to use quantum computers, devices that encode the wave function in quantum “Qubits” rather than classical bits. In this proposal we will pursue a complementary approach using quantum simulation. A quantum simulator is a special purpose device designed to study a specific Schrödinger equation. In particular, we focus on a quantum simulator based on ultra-cold atoms that can emulate the Schrödinger equation for a dilute gas of neutrons. These atoms can be manipulated using a combination of laser beams and magnetic fields that allow us to control the initial configuration and the interaction that enters into the Schrödinger equation. We will investigate two problems. The first is the transition from few to many-body behavior as atoms are added one at a time to a lattice. The other is the non-equilibrium response of a homogeneous Fermi gas to external probes, which can be used to extract the friction (viscosity) and thermal conductivity of a gas of neutrons. 

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