Physicists Are Bewitched by Twisted Graphene’s ‘Magic Angle’

Pablo Jarillo-Herrero is channeling some of his copious energy into a morning run, dodging startled pedestrians as he zips along, gradually disappearing into the distance. He’d doubtlessly be moving even faster if he weren’t dressed in a sports coat, slacks and dress shoes, and confined to one of the many weirdly long corridors that crisscross the campus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. But what he lacks in gear and roadway he makes up for in determination, driven by the knowledge that a packed auditorium is waiting for him to take the podium. Jarillo-Herrero has never been a slacker, but his activity has jumped several levels since his dramatic announcement in March 2018 that his lab at MIT had found …

Noisy Quantum Computers Could Be Good for Chemistry Problems

Scientists and researchers have long extolled the extraordinary potential capabilities of universal quantum computers, like simulating physical and natural processes or breaking cryptographic codes in practical time frames. Yet important developments in the technology—the ability to fabricate the necessary number of high-quality qubits (the basic units of quantum information) and gates (elementary operations between qubits)—is most likely still decades away. However, there is a class of quantum devices—ones that currently exist—that could address otherwise intractable problems much sooner than that. These near-term quantum devices, coined Noisy Intermediate-Scale Quantum (NISQ) by Caltech professor John Preskill, are single-purpose, highly imperfect, and modestly sized. As the name implies, NISQ devices are “noisy,” meaning that the results of calculations have errors, which in some …