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InfoQ Homepage News Microsoft Integrates Copilot with Azure Quantum Elements for Advancing Scientific Research

Microsoft Integrates Copilot with Azure Quantum Elements for Advancing Scientific Research

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At the recent Ignite conference, Microsoft demonstrated the advantages of combining AI and Azure Quantum Elements, a suite of services and tools for quantum chemistry and materials science. With the integration of Copilot, the new solution allows researchers to explore more materials, speed up chemistry simulations, and experiment with existing quantum hardware.

Announced in private preview earlier this year, Azure Quantum Elements is based on Azure Quantum, the service that integrates HPC, Copilot, and quantum computing. According to Microsoft, Quantum Elements provides simulation workflows optimized for scaling on Azure HPC clusters, AI-accelerated computing, and integration with Azure quantum tools.

Demonstrating how to discover a new coolant using a Python notebook, Satya Nadella, chairman and CEO at Microsoft, claimed during his keynote that any scientist can now design novel new molecules with unique properties for developing more sustainable chemicals, drugs, and advanced materials. Nadella previously wrote on X (formerly Twitter):

Our goal is to compress the next 250 years of chemistry and materials science progress into the next 25.

While most comments were positive, some questioned it or argued that it was a statement aimed at impressing shareholders. Jason Zander, executive VP at Microsoft, writes:

Understanding nature is not an easy task. For accurate calculations of the most complex quantum states of molecules, the number of energy states of just 100 electrons can exceed the number of atoms in the visible universe.

According to the press release, different material and pharmaceutical companies, including BASF, AkzoNobel, and AspenTech, have already used the new service to improve their research and development processes. Zander adds:

Today, scientists are using unique AI models and HPC scale to run simulations with higher levels of accuracy than before. Azure Quantum Elements also integrates classical and quantum computing to provide an on-ramp to even greater simulation accuracy. In the future, scientists believe a quantum supercomputer will enable predictive chemical design at 100X accuracy.

Quantum chemistry is a hot topic among cloud providers, with AWS providing Amazon Bracket, a managed quantum computing service designed to help speed up scientific research, and recently showing how to run quantum chemistry calculations using AWS ParallelCluster. At re:Invent, AWS announced Braket Direct, a new program that helps quantum researchers work with quantum computing. Under the project Google Quantum AI, Google Cloud is developing tools for researchers to operate beyond classical capabilities.

In the article "Accelerating materials discovery with AI and Azure Quantum Elements", Chi Chen, senior quantum architect at Microsoft, and Nathan Baker, senior director at Microsoft, write:

In addition to applications in life sciences, MD simulations also play valuable roles in materials discovery by explaining relationships between material composition, structure, and dynamic properties. MD-calculated properties, such as thermal conductivity, ionic conductivity, and more, are often important filters in materials discovery pipelines.

Azure Quantum Elements is still in private preview.

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