Quantum simulators provide a highly controllable way to investigate the properties of a wide variety of physical systems which are otherwise very difficult to investigate. This new technology has enormous promise for a range of fundamental and applied questions across both academia and industry.
Immediate applications include the investigation of quantum mechanical models believed to describe enigmatic phenomena such as high-temperature superconductivity, the understanding of which remains a major outstanding challenge in condensed matter physics. The ability to directly simulate complex many-body systems will also allow for breakthroughs in materials science, with the ability to artificially construct new materials in quantum simulators and study their properties in detail. This could hugely accelerate the process of discovering and testing new materials.
Other important applications include investigating chemical processes in molecules, potentially leading to breakthroughs in quantum chemistry and the design of new pharmaceuticals. Quantum simulators can even be used to investigate high-energy physics by directly constructing quantum systems that mimic lattice gauge theory, an important part of modern particle physics.
A third important feature of quantum simulators is that they can be used to construct entirely new physical systems which don’t exist anywhere in nature, potentially allowing for the discovery of entirely new physics.