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Quantum @ NERSC Training: Introduction to Neutral Atom Quantum Computers, July 24-25, 2023

July 24, 2023


NERSC is hosting a two-part virtual training on neutral atom analog quantum computing. The training will be delivered by QuEra computing and discuss the use of neutral atom quantum computers and their application within the physical sciences. The training sessions require no prior knowledge about quantum information and are open to all NERSC users. ALCF and OLCF users are welcome to this training.


A majority of NERSC users and a significant fraction of compute cycles are focused on unraveling the interplay of physical systems that are governed by the laws of quantum mechanics. This is a fundamentally challenging problem to solve using traditional algorithms executed on HPC scale systems, in particular in the regimes that are of most interest to scientists.

Quantum computing holds the promise of overcoming some of these challenges in the future. In order to prepare for this future, NERSC is evaluating different quantum hardware platforms. The leading technological platforms to date are superconducting qubits and trapped ion systems. More recently, quantum computers based on neutral atoms trapped in optical lattices have emerged as an alternative candidate platform.

QuEra computing has developed Aquila, an analog neutral atom quantum simulator which can hold and manipulate up to 256 qubits. The device operates in analog mode, which reduces the overhead of gate based algorithms for problems that map natively to Aquila’s architecture.

During this two-part training course, we will cover the basic concepts of quantum computing with neutral atoms using QuEra's technology and programming pipeline. We will cover general features of the technology, notable use cases - including work under development by NERSC - and move on to relevant physical concepts and key programming techniques using the software platform Bloqade. Hands-on activities will be part of this workshop, and applications on phases and phase transitions will be used to illustrate the concepts of relevance. 

In order to follow along with the hands-on demonstration, it is recommended to install Bloqade before the training. Detailed installation instructions are found here.


Monday July 24, 2023

  • 10am - 10:30am PST: Introduction to QuEra and neutral atom quantum computing (Pedro Lopes)
  • 10:30am - 10:50am PST: overview of NERSC’s preliminary Aquila hardware results (Jan Balewski, Siva Darbha, Mark Hirsbrunner)
  • 10:50am - 11:30am PST: Basics of Bloqade (Pedro Lopes)

Tuesday July 25, 2023

  • 10am - 11:15am PST: Rabi oscillations and ordered phases (Pedro Lopes)
  • 11:15am - 11:25am PST: Q&A
  • 11:15am - 11:30am PST: closing remarks and wrap up (Katie Klymko)

The format of this event will be online only.


Registration is required for participation. Please find more information and register on this form. 

Presentation Materials

Training materials available at:


Pedro Lopes is a business developer at QuEra Computing Inc. With a PhD in theoretical physics, his research career - through Brazil, USA, and Canada - explored topics in quantum matter and topological physics. He is passionate about communicating quantum computing at all levels and helping customers and developers alike understand ideal entry points in this technology.

Jan Balewski is a consultant in the Data Science Engagement Group (DSEG) at NERSC/LBL. He specializes in optimizing machine learning code, conducting HPC-scale simulations for neuroscience, and calibrating and controlling quantum hardware developed by the Advanced Quantum Computing Testbed (AQT) at LBL. Jan also has experience in executing large-scale quantum circuits on platforms such as IBMQ, Quantinuum, and QuEra. He holds a Ph.D. in physics from Jagiellonian University in Cracow, Poland, and previously worked as a researcher at MIT's Laboratory for Nuclear Science (LNS) on polarized proton-proton collisions at the STAR experiment at RHIC.

Siva Darbha is a postdoctoral researcher at LBNL in the AMCR Division and NERSC. His current research includes quantum algorithms and hybrid quantum-classical approaches for near-term quantum hardware and analog quantum simulations of high energy physics phenomena on neutral atom quantum systems.

Mark Hirsbrunner is a NERSC intern and graduate student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign studying theoretical condensed matter physics. His research interests include many-body phases of neutral atoms arrays, geometric responses of topological insulators and semimetals, and quantum algorithms.

Katie Klymko received her PhD in 2018 from UC Berkeley where she worked on the statistical mechanics of non-equilibrium systems using computational and analytical techniques. She was a postdoc at LBL from October of 2018 through September of 2021, working on a range of topics including fluctuating hydrodynamics/finite volume methods for modeling mesoscale systems and more recently quantum computing algorithms. Her work in quantum computing has focused on the development of efficient methods for eigenvalue calculations in molecular systems as well as quantum computing algorithms to explore thermodynamic properties. In October of 2021, she became a staff member at NERSC where she is working to integrate HPC and quantum computing.