Fermilab Searches for a New Building Block of Matter and Quantum Computing Power

October 1, 2021

Oct. 1, 2021 — Researchers transported a gigantic electromagnetic ring from Brookhaven National Laboratory on Long Island to Fermilab near Chicago eight years ago in the search for a new building block of matter.  While it wasn’t the secret spaceship bystanders thought it was, it did allow scientists to explore fundamental questions about our universe.

The electromagnetic ring used to measure the muon rotation frequency found a new home at Fermilab. (Reidar Hahn/FERMILAB)

The ring was needed to confirm an experimental result that had intrigued particle physicists for 20 years.  The subject of the experiment was the muon, one of the 17 fundamental particles of nature.  The muon has the same negative charge as an electron, but the mass of about 200 electrons.  Muons behave like tiny spinning tops that generate their own magnetic field.

In 2001, scientists at Brookhaven National Laboratory measured the frequency at which muons rotated in an external magnetic field.  This rotation frequency is used to calculate a g factor—a scaling constant that relates the magnetic strength and rotational momentum of the muon.  The g factor is important because it can indicate the presence of other particles that block the muons’ interaction with the applied magnetic force.

The researchers observed that the experimental rotation frequency produced a g factor greater than the value predicted by the standard theoretical model of physics.  The Standard Model accounts for all the known fundamental particles and forces of nature, so the Brookhaven result hinted at the existence of undiscovered particles or forces.

“If these two numbers don’t agree with each other, it’s the space in the middle where the new physics can lie,” said Chris Polly, a senior scientist for the muon experiment at Fermilab.

The results of the Fermilab and Brookhaven muon experiments do not match the Standard Model prediction, hinting at the existence of an undiscovered particle or force. (Ryan Postel/FERMILAB)

Fermilab combined its muon-generating particle accelerator with Brookhaven’s electromagnetic ring to repeat Brookhaven’s initial experiment on a much larger scale.  They again observed that the measured rotation frequency did not align with the theoretical g factor, suggesting that the Standard Model may need to be overhauled.   There is only a 1 in 40,000 probability that the results differed by chance, providing further evidence of new physical forces or particles in the universe.

“Maybe there are monsters lurking out there that we haven’t even imagined yet,” Polly said.

As experimental physicists at Fermilab work to replicate this result, theoretical physicists across the world are using simulations to scrutinize their theoretical models.  And they need powerful computers to do so.

Although it’s not yet ready to be used for the muon experiment, researchers at Fermilab are also working to develop technology for quantum computers that can solve such complex problems exponentially faster than standard computers.

Think of it this way. If someone gave you a list of locations and told you they had stashed a pile of cash at one of them, you would have no choice but to search one location, and then the next, and so on until you found it.  Standard computers are subject to this same limitation.  Just as you can only be in one place at a time, the system can only occupy one of two defined states (represented by the ones and zeroes you see in computer hacking movies) at a given moment.

Fermilab’s Quantum Lab features an environmental apparatus for testing superconducting qubits. (Reidar Hahn/FERMILAB)

But what if you could search many locations at the same time?  That’s essentially what a quantum computer does.  Its system can occupy multiple superimposed quantum states simultaneously, allowing the computer to consider many possible solutions to a problem at once.

“It actually is extraordinarily valuable in terms of being able to traverse through the entire computation space much more rapidly than a traditional computer,” said Akshay Murthy, a postdoctoral research associate at Fermilab.

Murthy and his colleagues are researching computer technology called superconducting qubits (quantum bits) that use electromagnetic radiation to access the higher-energy quantum states.  Specifically, they are working to prolong the qubits’ coherence time—the amount of time that the system can live in the quantum space and perform calculations.  Right now, we’re getting poofed out of the “everywhere at once” mode before we can find the cash.  In fact, the coherence times of qubits need to be 1,000 to 1 million times longer before they can be used for quantum computing.

To extend coherence times, the team is examining the qubits under a powerful microscope and analyzing the chemical composition of their surfaces to look for any defects that might cause occupation of the quantum states to come crashing down prematurely.  They are also exploring modifications that could be made to the external environment, such as shielding the qubit in a freezing cold chamber to prevent temperature fluctuations that might destabilize the system.

“This technology is truly transformational if we’re able to deliver on its promises,” Murthy said.


Source: Sarah Anderson and Yuliya Klochan, Medill Reports, Northwestern University

Subscribe to HPCwire's Weekly Update!

Be the most informed person in the room! Stay ahead of the tech trends with industry updates delivered to you every week!

Can Cerabyte Crack the $1-Per-Petabyte Barrier with Ceramic Storage?

July 20, 2024

A German startup named Cerabyte is hoping to solve the burgeoning market for secondary and archival data storage with a novel approach that uses lasers to etch bits onto glass with a ceramic coating. The “grey ceramic� Read more…

Weekly Wire Roundup: July 15-July 19, 2024

July 19, 2024

It's summertime (for most of us), and the HPC-related headlines aren't as plentiful as they once were. But not everything has to happen at high tide-- this week still had some waves! Idaho National Laboratory's Bitter Read more…

ARM, Fujitsu Targeting Open-source Software for Power Efficiency in 2-nm Chip

July 19, 2024

Fujitsu and ARM are relying on open-source software to bring power efficiency to an air-cooled supercomputing chip that will ship in 2027. Monaka chip, which will be made using the 2-nanometer process, is based on the Read more…

SCALEing the CUDA Castle

July 18, 2024

In a previous article, HPCwire has reported on a way in which AMD can get across the CUDA moat that protects the Nvidia CUDA castle (at least for PyTorch AI projects.). Other tools have joined the CUDA castle siege. AMD Read more…

Quantum Watchers – Terrific Interview with Caltech’s John Preskill by CERN

July 17, 2024

In case you missed it, there's a fascinating interview with John Preskill, the prominent Caltech physicist and pioneering quantum computing researcher that was recently posted by CERN’s department of experimental physi Read more…

Aurora AI-Driven Atmosphere Model is 5,000x Faster Than Traditional Systems

July 16, 2024

While the onset of human-driven climate change brings with it many horrors, the increase in the frequency and strength of storms poses an enormous threat to communities across the globe. As climate change is warming ocea Read more…

Can Cerabyte Crack the $1-Per-Petabyte Barrier with Ceramic Storage?

July 20, 2024

A German startup named Cerabyte is hoping to solve the burgeoning market for secondary and archival data storage with a novel approach that uses lasers to etch Read more…

SCALEing the CUDA Castle

July 18, 2024

In a previous article, HPCwire has reported on a way in which AMD can get across the CUDA moat that protects the Nvidia CUDA castle (at least for PyTorch AI pro Read more…

Aurora AI-Driven Atmosphere Model is 5,000x Faster Than Traditional Systems

July 16, 2024

While the onset of human-driven climate change brings with it many horrors, the increase in the frequency and strength of storms poses an enormous threat to com Read more…

Shutterstock 1886124835

Researchers Say Memory Bandwidth and NVLink Speeds in Hopper Not So Simple

July 15, 2024

Researchers measured the real-world bandwidth of Nvidia's Grace Hopper superchip, with the chip-to-chip interconnect results falling well short of theoretical c Read more…

Shutterstock 2203611339

NSF Issues Next Solicitation and More Detail on National Quantum Virtual Laboratory

July 10, 2024

After percolating for roughly a year, NSF has issued the next solicitation for the National Quantum Virtual Lab program — this one focused on design and imple Read more…

NCSA’s SEAS Team Keeps APACE of AlphaFold2

July 9, 2024

High-performance computing (HPC) can often be challenging for researchers to use because it requires expertise in working with large datasets, scaling the softw Read more…

Anders Jensen on Europe’s Plan for AI-optimized Supercomputers, Welcoming the UK, and More

July 8, 2024

The recent ISC24 conference in Hamburg showcased LUMI and other leadership-class supercomputers co-funded by the EuroHPC Joint Undertaking (JU), including three Read more…

Generative AI to Account for 1.5% of World’s Power Consumption by 2029

July 8, 2024

Generative AI will take on a larger chunk of the world's power consumption to keep up with the hefty hardware requirements to run applications. "AI chips repres Read more…

Atos Outlines Plans to Get Acquired, and a Path Forward

May 21, 2024

Atos – via its subsidiary Eviden – is the second major supercomputer maker outside of HPE, while others have largely dropped out. The lack of integrators and Atos' financial turmoil have the HPC market worried. If Atos goes under, HPE will be the only major option for building large-scale systems. Read more…

Everyone Except Nvidia Forms Ultra Accelerator Link (UALink) Consortium

May 30, 2024

Consider the GPU. An island of SIMD greatness that makes light work of matrix math. Originally designed to rapidly paint dots on a computer monitor, it was then Read more…

Comparing NVIDIA A100 and NVIDIA L40S: Which GPU is Ideal for AI and Graphics-Intensive Workloads?

October 30, 2023

With long lead times for the NVIDIA H100 and A100 GPUs, many organizations are looking at the new NVIDIA L40S GPU, which it’s a new GPU optimized for AI and g Read more…

Shutterstock_1687123447

Nvidia Economics: Make $5-$7 for Every $1 Spent on GPUs

June 30, 2024

Nvidia is saying that companies could make $5 to $7 for every $1 invested in GPUs over a four-year period. Customers are investing billions in new Nvidia hardwa Read more…

Nvidia Shipped 3.76 Million Data-center GPUs in 2023, According to Study

June 10, 2024

Nvidia had an explosive 2023 in data-center GPU shipments, which totaled roughly 3.76 million units, according to a study conducted by semiconductor analyst fir Read more…

AMD Clears Up Messy GPU Roadmap, Upgrades Chips Annually

June 3, 2024

In the world of AI, there's a desperate search for an alternative to Nvidia's GPUs, and AMD is stepping up to the plate. AMD detailed its updated GPU roadmap, w Read more…

Some Reasons Why Aurora Didn’t Take First Place in the Top500 List

May 15, 2024

The makers of the Aurora supercomputer, which is housed at the Argonne National Laboratory, gave some reasons why the system didn't make the top spot on the Top Read more…

Intel’s Next-gen Falcon Shores Coming Out in Late 2025 

April 30, 2024

It's a long wait for customers hanging on for Intel's next-generation GPU, Falcon Shores, which will be released in late 2025.  "Then we have a rich, a very Read more…

Leading Solution Providers

Contributors

Google Announces Sixth-generation AI Chip, a TPU Called Trillium

May 17, 2024

On Tuesday May 14th, Google announced its sixth-generation TPU (tensor processing unit) called Trillium.  The chip, essentially a TPU v6, is the company's l Read more…

Nvidia H100: Are 550,000 GPUs Enough for This Year?

August 17, 2023

The GPU Squeeze continues to place a premium on Nvidia H100 GPUs. In a recent Financial Times article, Nvidia reports that it expects to ship 550,000 of its lat Read more…

IonQ Plots Path to Commercial (Quantum) Advantage

July 2, 2024

IonQ, the trapped ion quantum computing specialist, delivered a progress report last week firming up 2024/25 product goals and reviewing its technology roadmap. Read more…

Choosing the Right GPU for LLM Inference and Training

December 11, 2023

Accelerating the training and inference processes of deep learning models is crucial for unleashing their true potential and NVIDIA GPUs have emerged as a game- Read more…

The NASA Black Hole Plunge

May 7, 2024

We have all thought about it. No one has done it, but now, thanks to HPC, we see what it looks like. Hold on to your feet because NASA has released videos of wh Read more…

Q&A with Nvidia’s Chief of DGX Systems on the DGX-GB200 Rack-scale System

March 27, 2024

Pictures of Nvidia's new flagship mega-server, the DGX GB200, on the GTC show floor got favorable reactions on social media for the sheer amount of computing po Read more…

MLPerf Inference 4.0 Results Showcase GenAI; Nvidia Still Dominates

March 28, 2024

There were no startling surprises in the latest MLPerf Inference benchmark (4.0) results released yesterday. Two new workloads — Llama 2 and Stable Diffusion Read more…

NVLink: Faster Interconnects and Switches to Help Relieve Data Bottlenecks

March 25, 2024

Nvidia’s new Blackwell architecture may have stolen the show this week at the GPU Technology Conference in San Jose, California. But an emerging bottleneck at Read more…

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
HPCwire