Chemists Are First in Line for Quantum Computing's Benefits

MIT Technology Review 

This month IBM and Google both said they aim to commercialize quantum computers within the next few years (Google specified five), selling access to the exotic machines in a new kind of cloud service. The competitors predict a new era in which computers are immensely more powerful, with dividends including more efficient routing for logistics and mapping companies, new forms of machine learning, better product recommendations, and improved diagnostic tests. But before any of that, the first quantum computer to start paying its way with useful work in the real world looks likely to do so by helping chemists trying to do things like improve batteries or electronics. So far, simulating molecules and reactions is the use case for early, small quantum computers sketched out in most detail by researchers developing the new kind of algorithms needed for such machines. Quantum computers, which represent data using quantum-mechanical effects apparent at tiny scales, should be able to perform computations impossible for any conventional computer.