Phasecraft, Oxford PV to use quantum computer to find photovoltaic materials

Business news |
By Nick Flaherty

Phasecraft and Oxford PV have received funding for a UK project to explore the development of new materials for photovoltaic solar cells using a quantum computer.

The project with University College, London, will develop a modelling capability that is tailored to the real-world needs of the photovoltaics industry. Oxford PV is a leading manufacturer of tandem solar cells using perovskite materials with a plant in Germany.

“Phasecraft has already proven that quantum computers have the potential to revolutionise materials modelling, even before fully scalable, fault-tolerant quantum computers become available,” said Phasecraft co-founder Toby Cubitt, who is also Reader in Quantum Information at UCL and head of the Quantum group in the Department of Computer Science.

“The results we have obtained for battery materials are hugely encouraging and show how our work can really make the difference in critically important areas. We know that photovoltaics has a crucial role to play in the transition to green energy, and we are hugely excited to be the ones making quantum computing part of the green revolution,” he said.

The funding comes from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) as part of the £153m Commercialising Quantum Technologies Challenge delivered by Innovate UK.

Phasecraft already works with quantum computers from IBM, Google and Rigetti. A second project with BT and Rigetti is looking at using quantum computers to solve computational problems in an array of fields including network design and electronic design automation.

“Phasecraft’s goal is to significantly reduce the timescale for quantum advantage in several critical areas,” said Ashley Montanaro, co-founder of Phasecraft and professor of quantum computation at the University of Bristol. “We’re excited to be working with world experts on telecommunications networks at BT, and extending our ongoing partnership with Rigetti, to apply quantum algorithms to optimisation problems. This project will build on our expertise in key underlying technologies, enabling us to determine whether near-term quantum computing could outperform classical methods in this application domain.”

Phasecraft has so far raised £8.2m (9.8m, $9.8m) in funding and is based in London and Bristol.

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