Large-scale particle physics laboratories around the world have huge accelerators with a circumference of up to 27 km, as in the case of CERN (Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire). Tremendously costly experiments to study the creation and annihilation of matter are conducted in these accelerators. Would it be possible to simulate these collisions in small experiments on a table top? In 2011 the QUTIS Group led at the UPV/EHU by the Ikerbasque professor Enrique Solano presented a theoretical proposal which they were able to verify seven years later at the trapped-ion laboratory of Prof Kihwan Kim of the University of Tsinghua.
"We set up a quantum theatre in which the particles behave like actors in a quantum computer, in other words, some imitate others for various purposes," explained Prof Enrique Solano. There was a fun side to this but also a very practical one, since these experiments would in the future entail the saving of money and would also involve controlled tests that would be impossible to calculate using conventional computers. "We managed to imitate how matter (represented by fermions, one of the two types of elementary particles that exist in nature) and antimatter (anti-fermions) is created and destroyed using lasers, loaded atoms (ions) and atomic traps. In other words, we simulated physics that is very similar to that of the large accelerators using a trapped-ion quantum computer," added the head of the QUTIS Group.