Andrew King et. al

The work of Berezinskii, Kosterlitz and Thouless in the 1970s revealed exotic phases of matter governed by the topological properties of low-dimensional materials such as thin films of superfluids and superconductors. A hallmark of this phenomenon is the appearance and interaction of vortices and antivortices in an angular degree of freedom—typified by the classical XY model—owing to thermal fluctuations. In the two-dimensional Ising model this angular degree of freedom is absent in the classical case, but with the addition of a transverse field it can emerge from the interplay between frustration and quantum fluctuations. Consequently, a Kosterlitz–Thouless phase transition has been predicted in the quantum system—the two-dimensional transverse-field Ising model—by theory and simulation. Here we demonstrate a large- scale quantum simulation of this phenomenon in a network of 1,800 in situ programmable superconducting niobium flux qubits whose pairwise couplings are arranged in a fully frustrated square-octagonal lattice. Essential to the critical behaviour, we observe the emergence of a complex order parameter with continuous rotational symmetry, and the onset of quasi-long-range order as the system approaches a critical temperature. We describe and use a simple approach to statistical estimation with an annealing-based quantum processor that performs Monte Carlo sampling in a chain of reverse quantum annealing protocols. Observations are consistent with classical simulations across a range of Hamiltonian parameters. We anticipate that our approach of using a quantum processor as a programmable magnetic lattice will find widespread use in the simulation and development of exotic materials.

(22 Aug 2018) Nature (Vol. 560, Issue 7719, August 22, 2018)

Read the Synopsis See arXiv: https://arxiv.org/abs/1803.02047