The rules of quantum mechanics describe how atoms and molecules act very differently from the world around us. Scientists have made progress toward teasing out these rules—essential for finding ways to make new molecules and better technology—but some are so complex that they evade experimental verification.

With the advent of open-access quantum computers, scientists at the University of Chicago saw an opportunity to do a very unusual experiment to test some of these quantum principles. Their study, which appeared Jan. 31 in Nature Communications Physics, taps into a quantum computer to discover fundamental truths about the quantum behavior of electrons in molecules.

“Quantum computing is a really exciting realm to explore fundamental questions. It allows us to observe aspects of quantum theory that are absolutely untouchable with classical computers,” said Prof. David Mazziotti, professor of chemistry and author on the paper.

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