"Quantum computers will solve chemistry" - Steve Brierley, Riverlane

Podcast17 Oct 2022

Quantum computers will solve all of chemistry (and a large part of physics). 

That's the latest big prediction on the "Crazy Until It's Not" podcast, this time by Steve Brierley, the founder and CEO of the quantum computing startup Riverlane.

What does Steve really mean though by "solving" chemistry?

The idea, says Steve, is that we will soon be able to model on a quantum computer what happens on the scale of molecules and atoms. This means we will be able to predict how they will interact on a computer, rather than having to do tests in the lab.

This has huge implications for science. Imagine what we could do if whole fields of science could be vastly speeded up by modelling them digitally. Imagine what we could create in areas such as new materials, superconductors and batteries. 

At the moment, with conventional computing, modelling chemical interactions is hugely complex and computers are not powerful enough to do it on a large scale (i.e it would take a computer vastly bigger than the world to model these equasions)  

But with the rise of quantum computing, the microscopic interactions of molecules and atoms obeying the laws of quantum mechanics are becoming possible to model.

How will quantum computing solve "much of physics"? 

Well, much of the physical world follows Newtonian laws (e.g how ball moves around a football pitch). 

But, Steve says, there are exciting areas such as cosmology where quantum computers could be helpful, for example helping us understand black holes.

Who is Steve? Steve founded Riverlane, which is building the Operating System for error corrected quantum computers, in 2016, because of his belief that fault-tolerant quantum computers will be capable of accelerating a significant era of human progress and could be built far sooner than previously imaginable. 

Today, Riverlane is well on its way to achieving that mission. Steve has worked in quantum for 20 years and is an expert advisor to the UK government. He holds a PhD in quantum information and has spent almost a decade in the intelligence community as a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Cambridge, leading major research projects in quantum computing.

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