Generating Approximate Ground States of Molecules Using Quantum Machine Learning

Marika (Maria) Kieferova
University of Technology, Sydney

The potential energy surface (PES) of molecules with respect to their nuclear positions is a primary tool in understanding chemical reactions from first principles. However, obtaining this information is complicated by the fact that sampling a large number of ground states over a high-dimensional PES can require a vast number of state preparations. In this work, we propose using a generative quantum machine learning model to prepare quantum states at arbitrary points on the PES. The model is trained using quantum data consisting of ground-state wavefunctions associated with different classical nuclear coordinates. Our approach uses a classical neural network to convert the nuclear coordinates of a molecule into quantum parameters of a variational quantum circuit. The model is trained using a fidelity loss function to optimize the neural network parameters. We show that gradient evaluation is efficient and numerically demonstrate our method’s ability to prepare wavefunctions on the PES of hydrogen chains, water, and beryllium hydride. In all cases, we find that a small number of training points are needed to achieve very high overlap with the groundstates in practice. From a theoretical perspective, we further prove limitations on these protocols by showing that if we were able to learn across an avoided crossing using a small number of samples, then we would be able to violate Grover’s lower bound. Additionally, we prove lower bounds on the amount of quantum data needed to learn a locally optimal neural network function using arguments from quantum Fisher information. This work further identifies that quantum chemistry can be an important use case for quantum machine learning.

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