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Quantum-Field-Theoretic Simulation Platform for Observing the Fate of the False Vacuum

Abel, Steven and Spannowsky, Michael (2021) 'Quantum-Field-Theoretic Simulation Platform for Observing the Fate of the False Vacuum.', PRX Quantum, 2 (1). 010349.


We design and implement a quantum annealing simulation platform to observe and study dynamical processes in quantum field theory (QFT). Our approach encodes the field theory as an Ising model, which is then solved by a quantum annealer. As a proof of concept, we encode a scalar field theory and measure the probability for it to tunnel from the false vacuum to the true vacuum for various tunneling times, vacuum displacements, and potential profiles. The results are in accord with those predicted theoretically, showing that a quantum annealer is a promising platform for encoding QFTs. This is the first time it has been possible to measure instanton processes across a freely chosen QFT energy barrier. We argue that this novel and flexible method to study the dynamics of quantum systems has potential application to many field theories of interest. Measurements of the dynamical behavior of such encoded field theories are independent of theoretical calculations and can be used to infer their properties without being limited by the availability of suitable perturbative or nonperturbative computational methods. Soon, measurements using such a quantum annealing simulation platform could therefore be used to improve theoretical and computational methods conceptually and may enable the measurement and detailed study of previously unobserved quantum phenomena.

Item Type:Article
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Available under License - Creative Commons Attribution 4.0.
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Publisher statement:Published by the American Physical Society under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license. Further distribution of this work must maintain attribution to the author(s) and the published article's title, journal citation, and DOI.
Date accepted:22 January 2021
Date deposited:02 December 2021
Date of first online publication:24 March 2021
Date first made open access:02 December 2021

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