Supervisors: Animesh Datta and Tom Goffrey
The field of quantum computation and simulation seeks to develop efficient quantum algorithms for problems that are classically inefficient to solve and are therefore computationally expensive. Furthermore, a quantum-enhanced simulation must not only perform a hard classical simulation efficiently, but also correctly. The latter goal is particularly important as real-world quantum computers are noisy and error prone.
This project, in collaboration with IBM Research, will develop algorithms for efficient quantum simulation for plasma and fusion physics problems, and establishing their reliability in real-world quantum computers. The project is ideal for a student interested in a close interplay of quantum computation and simulation with plasma physics.
Plasma physics and fusion science involve some of the most computationally demanding simulations in the physical sciences. Recently, a quantum algorithm has been proposed for classical plasma physics simulations such as those of the linearised Vlasov equation with a Maxwellian background distribution - a simulation that is, in fact, classically efficient . Other preliminary explorations have also been undertaken .
In fusion science, warm dense matter (WDM) is a strongly correlated quantum system. WDM  is relevant for inertial confinement fusion during the solid to plasma transition driven by intense laser pulses, as well as the cores of giant planets and small stars. While quantum algorithms have been developed for simulating strongly correlated systems in condensed matter physics, such as the 2D Hubbard model, 2D XY model , no such algorithm exists for WDM.
This project, in collaboration with IBM Research, will develop quantum algorithms for solving the Vlasov equation going beyond the Maxwellian assumption, a regime practically relevant in high temperature tokamaks. One initial approach could be the Harrow-Hassidim-Lloyd algorithm , though further novel ideas will be required.
This project will also develop quantum algorithms for the simulation of WDM. There the starting point would be to evaluate the complexity of orbital-free DFT used in WDM simulations, before developing quantum Hamiltonian simulation algorithms.
Real-world quantum computers on which the above simulations are expected to run are improving in size and performance but remain noisy. It is thus crucial to quantify the reliability of their outputs. This project will do so by developing quantum accreditation  methods for the developed algorithms.
Links to HetSys Training:
This ambitious project seeks to bridge the gap between kinetic simulations and macroscopic fusion simulations - a complex, multiscale problem, challenging even for conventional computers. Those challenges cannot be addressed in a conventional PhD program in quantum computing. Essential to the project is the HetSys training in multiscale physics, RSE skills and UQ, giving the student unique initiation to study how quantum algorithms can be leveraged to advance the description of fusion plasmas.
Training in computational plasma physics (PX917) will be crucial to identifying the bottlenecks in these simulations before quantum algorithms can be developed for them, as in training in multiscale modelling, from fluid and plasma mechanics to DFT (PX911, 912). Classical uncertainly quantification (PX914) can benefit quantum accreditation for quantum algorithms, particularly scalable approaches as any overheads can overwhelm the small quantum computers being developed. Skills in software development (PX913) will benefit developing codes that program quantum computers. The Quantum Computation & Simulation module (PX447) could be taken as an optional module.
 A. Engel, G. Smith, S. E. Parker, Physical Review A, 100, 062315, (2019)
 I. Y. Dodin, E. A. Startsev, Physics of Plasmas 28, 092101 (2021)
 B. Larder et al., Science Advances, 5, eaaw1634, (2019)
 T. S. Cubitt et al., Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 115, 9497, (2018)
 A. W. Harrow, A. Hassidim, S. Lloyd, Physical Review Letters, 103, 150502, (2009)
 S. Ferracin, S. T. Merkel, D. McKay, A. Datta, Physical Review A, 104, 042603, (2021)
Are you interested in applying for this project? Head over to our Study with Us page for information on the application process, and the HetSys training programme.
For the 2023/24 academic year, UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) funding is open to both UK and International research students. Awards pay a stipend to cover maintenance as well as paying the university fees and providing a research training support grant. For further details, please visit the HetSys Funding Page
At the University of Warwick, we strongly value equity, diversity and inclusion, and HetSys will provide a healthy working environment dedicated to outstanding scientific guidance, mentorship and personal development. Read more about life in the HetSys CDT here.
HetSys is proud to be a part of the Physics Department which holds an Athena SWAN Silver award, a national initiative to promote gender equality for all staff and students. The Physics Department is also a Juno Champion, which is an award from the Institute of Physics to recognise our efforts to address the under-representation of women in university physics and to encourage better practice for both women and men.