Hy-Q Seminar - Matthias Christandl
Quantum Computing for Molecular Biology
Molecular biology and biochemistry interpret microscopic processes in the living world in terms of molecular structures and their interactions, which are quantum mechanical by their very nature. Whereas the theoretical foundations of these interactions are very well established, the computational solution of the relevant quantum mechanical equations is very hard. However, much of molecular function in biology can be understood in terms of classical mechanics, where the interactions of electrons and nuclei have been mapped onto effective classical surrogate potentials that model the interaction of atoms or even larger entities. The simple mathematical structure of these potentials offers huge computational advantages; however, this comes at the cost that all quantum correlations and the rigorous many-particle nature of the interactions are omitted. In this work, we discuss how quantum computation may advance the practical usefulness of the quantum foundations of molecular biology by offering computational advantages for simulations of biomolecules. We not only discuss typical quantum mechanical problems of the electronic structure of biomolecules in this context, but also consider the dominating classical problems (such as protein folding and drug design) as well as data-driven approaches of bioinformatics and the degree to which they might become amenable to quantum simulation and quantum computation.