Volkswagen AG and the Canadian company Xanadu have launched a multi-year research programme to optimise the computing power of quantum algorithms for the simulation of battery materials. The aim is to reduce computing costs and accelerate the use of quantum computers at Volkswagen to develop safer, lighter and cheaper battery materials.
Accurate simulation of battery materials is a challenge for the entire industry that could be more easily overcome by introducing fault-tolerant quantum computers. Existing classical methods such as density functional theory have been the cornerstones of computational chemistry for several decades, but despite their great successes, they are reaching their limits in research areas that play an essential role in the development of more powerful batteries.
Already last year, Volkswagen and Xanadu conducted cross-disciplinary research in the fields of materials science, computational chemistry, battery technologies and quantum algorithms, which forms the foundation for the programme’s long-term research activities. The joint research programme aims to overcome the challenges the industry faces in battery research by developing state-of-the-art quantum algorithms for battery materials simulation. These algorithms will be processed on Xanadu’s next-generation fault-tolerant quantum computers. The first research report on the programme provides an initial assessment of the resources required to implement a quantum algorithm to simulate a realistic cathode material, dilithium iron silicate.
“Xanadu is moving into new areas in the field of hardware, software and algorithms for quantum computing. We want to make quantum computing practical by exploring quantum algorithms. The fact that we are focusing on batteries is a strategic decision, given the needs of the industry and the opportunities that quantum computing offers for a better understanding of the complex chemical processes in a battery cell,” says Juan Miguel Arrazola, head of algorithms at Xanadu.
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The programme will also address computational problems in materials science, an area where the partners believe quantum computing offers the best prospects for fundamental advances. The partnership with Xanadu is an expression of Volkswagen’s ambition to become a data and software-driven provider of sustainable mobility and a leader in both battery development and quantum computing applications, the company stressed in a press release.
In August this year, Volkswagen and the Canadian government signed a memorandum of understanding to promote e-mobility in the country. Both parties agreed to explore opportunities for Canada to contribute to Volkswagen’s global and regional battery supply chains.