Perspective | Published:

Opinion: Quantum solutions for a sustainable energy future

Nature Reviews Chemistry volume 1, Article number: 0032 (2017) | Download Citation

Abstract

Humanity's technological, economic and societal progress since the onset of the industrial revolution has left us facing one of the greatest challenges in history, as well as the tools to solve it: how to power our world sustainably while minimizing environmental harm. In this Perspective, we highlight the important role that quantum chemistry has in sustainable energy research and our vision of its future impact. Important technical problems in the field of sustainable energy and their potential quantum solutions are covered. The development of advanced quantum mechanical methods, which can be combined with other simulation tools, affords insights that will help to secure our energy and environmental future.

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Acknowledgements

The authors thank N. Baughman for assistance with the manuscript and G. Turk, W. C. Witt and E. Dieterich for reviews. E.A.C. thanks the US Air Force Office of Scientific Research, the US National Science Foundation, the US Office of Naval Research, the US Army Research Office, and the US Department of Energy, Basic Energy Sciences and Fusion Energy Sciences, for their support of her sustainable energy and quantum mechanics research programmes over many years.

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Affiliations

  1. Johannes M. Dieterich is at the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Princeton University.

    • Johannes M. Dieterich
  2. Emily A. Carter is at the School of Engineering and Applied Science, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey 08544-5263, USA.

    • Emily A. Carter

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Competing interests

The authors declare no competing interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Emily A. Carter.

Glossary

Complexity scaling

The time that a given algorithm takes to produce a solution as a function of input data size (N). Marked as O(Nx), where O is order, x = 1 denotes linear complexity scaling, x = 2 is quadratic and so on.

Excited states

All allowed energy states of a quantum mechanical system that are not the ground state.

Quasi-linear

Complexity scaling of O(N log(N)) difficulty, where O is order and N is some measure of system size (for example, number of electrons, number of atoms or number of orbitals).

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https://doi.org/10.1038/s41570-017-0032