Phasecraft, a spinout of UCL and the University of Bristol, has raised £13 million for their quantum algorithms, which they believe will give them a quantum algorithm advantage.
Silicon Valley’s Playground Global led the Series A funding. AlbionVC participated in the round alongside existing investors Episode1, Parkwalk Advisors, LCIF and UCL Technology Fund.
According to a press release, Phasecraft’s early focus is on applying quantum algorithms to discover novel materials to power the clean energy transition.
Ashley Montanaro, co-founder and CEO of Phasecraft, said a quantum algorithm is just like an algorithm that runs on a standard computer. “What is different is that it runs on a quantum computer, using the amazing features of quantum mechanics – things that aren’t possible on a classical computer,” adds Montanaro.
“Current quantum computers are unstable and noisy, so you can’t run a textbook algorithm to discover a new drug, for instance, because it would be incorrect,” said Montanaro in an email interview. “We’re designing the quantum algorithms that reduce the requirements on the hardware and will enable the amazing developments that quantum computers will bring.”
A practical quantum advantage
In May 2022, IBM announced its quantum roadmap through 2026, with details year-by-year what they will release into the market.
Helsinki-based Algorithmiq is innovating in the quantum programming space. The company has launched a drug discovery platform that combines the results of a quantum computation with classical algorithms.
Montanaro says the advantage of being prepared before the market is ready is they will have the software that every quantum computing company will want for their computers to be able to start making a difference in the world.
“Take, for instance, a new material discovery that will enable the clean energy transition,” said Montanaro. “We’ve developed a software pipeline that delivers an improvement of one million times or more in modeling real materials in a more efficient way for today’s quantum computers.”
Montanaro says that over the next several years, they believe the combination of developments in hardware and software will lead to a practical quantum advantage for material discovery. “It could be then that we focus on material discovery ourselves and work with companies that will then utilize our research, or we will sell our software to companies focusing on material research,” said Montanaro.
Montanaro says quantum computers are still a few years away from impacting the consumer, but once the world can speed up material development, this will have a marked impact on clean energy and could change how the world is powered, which will change lives. “For example, quantum computing could enable the development of higher-performance battery cathodes, allowing longer-range electric cars or higher-efficiency solar cells,” said Montanaro.
Montanaro says the company hasn’t been able to discover any novel materials yet, but it’s a focus for Phasecraft.
“The first step is to get to a quantum advantage,” said Montanaro. “We’re continuing to work on this, and we expect to support the discovery of novel materials for the clean energy transition in the future.”
Montanaro says an example of a material that’s difficult to simulate on a traditional computer is methylammonium lead halide perovskites, solid compounds that can provide high-performance materials in things like solar cells and light-emitting devices.
“Quantum computers could be used to screen the hundreds of possible combinations of lead-free cations with metal ions for desirable properties when this material is used as a solar cell,” added Montanaro.
“Understanding how new elements and materials can be incorporated into the design process via precise quantum simulations to describe their chemistries can identify new ways to improve battery storage and even progress novel platforms such as the nascent field of solid-state battery technology,” said Montenaro.