Tetraquarks and Quantum Computing

Lead Research Organisation: University of Glasgow
Department Name: School of Physics and Astronomy


STFC: William Parrott: ST/S505390/1
The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN, possibly the most famous physics experiment ever, and certainly one of the most exciting, continues to push the boundaries of our knowledge, and questions our perceived notions of the workings of the universe. But how well do we understand the particles that are detected there? Most particles made of quarks that are seen at the LHC have a well-understood theoretical explanation, being simple mesons and baryons with a standard quark and/or antiquark content. These confirm what we think we know about the universe, but there also seem to be particles that do not fit into this box. Recent hints of exciting new particles have prompted questions about what kinds of particles can exist within our theoretical framework, and for those that can, what masses we would expect them to have. For some non-standard particles, called tetraquarks, there is some emerging evidence that their existnce may be consistent with our current theories, and also some evidence of their possible detection at the LHC. In order to confirm the possibility of these new particles, a much clearer theoretical picture is needed and that means more precise determination of their mass. This is what we intend to calculate, using improved methods to obtain a better picture of how the binding of a particular set of possible tetraquarks depends on the masses of the quarks they contain. The unambiguous discovery of such a particle would be extremely exciting for the world of particle physics, and improved theory calculations will help the experimentalists searching for them.
Another exciting frontier of physics is the development of new and better computers. Computers have become a huge part of everyday life and computing power has increased vastly since their inception, but we want to carry out ever more complicated tasks and do so ever more quickly. There is a limit to how powerful we can make a classical computer, so we must look for other options. The most exciting option, which is in the early stages of development, is the so-called quantum computer. It is looking increasingly likely that quantum computers will one day be a reality, and so it is important that we have thought through how to use them. They could be a real game-changer for computationally very challenging fields such as that of quark physics. Because quantum computers work in a very different way to existing computers, we need to develop the tools to make use of them. This project will equip me to work in this area by setting up a prototype of a possible calculation in quark physics.
My project will combine these two cutting-edge areas of physics, calculating the masses of tetraquarks, as well as working towards the use of quantum computers to carry out similar calculations in future. As well as pushing the boundaries of physics, the project will help the development of my own personal skills. I will be able to bring my knowledge of computational techniques to a new challenge in the tetraquark calculation, as well as learn from my Canadian hosts about a whole new area of research in the quantum computing work.


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