Volkswagen Group and Xanadu establish quantum simulation program for battery materials

Accurately and efficiently simulating battery materials is an industry-wide challenge that could benefit from the advent of fault-tolerant quantum computers. Existing classical methods such as density functional theory have been the cornerstone of computational chemistry for several decades, but despite their many successes, they are reaching their limits in research areas crucial to building better batteries.

“Volkswagen is breaking new ground with its NEW AUTO strategy, especially when it comes to opening up opportunities along the battery value chain. Next-generation high-performance materials and electrochemical processes are the most important components of this expedition.” says Dr. Nikolai Ardey, Head of Volkswagen Group Innovation. “Working with top companies like Xanadu is like boarding a speedboat bound for the next big thing: quantum computing could spark a revolution in materials science and optimization, key competencies to expand our in-house battery expertise.”

Over the past year, Volkswagen and Xanadu have engaged in multi-domain research in the areas of materials science, computational chemistry, battery technologies and quantum algorithms, which have laid the foundation for the program’s long-term research efforts. The joint program aims to address industry challenges in battery research by focusing on the development of advanced quantum algorithms for simulating battery materials to be processed on Xanadu’s next-generation fault-tolerant quantum computers. The program’s first research article (published September 2022: highlights the first estimate of the resources needed to implement a quantum algorithm to simulate a realistic cathode material are required, dilithium iron silicate.

“At Xanadu we are pushing the boundaries of quantum computing hardware, software and algorithms. Our goal in research on quantum algorithms is to make quantum computers really useful. Focusing on batteries is a strategic decision given industry demand and the prospect of quantum computing to help understand the complex chemistry inside a battery cell,” said Juan Miguel Arrazola, Head of Algorithms at Xanadu. “We are very excited to be working with the fantastic team at Volkswagen to conduct cutting-edge research focused on overcoming the technical barriers in quantum algorithms needed to unlock the potential of quantum computing for battery development.”

The program will also explore additional computational problems in materials discovery where quantum computing has the greatest prospects for massive impact. The partnership with Xanadu supports Volkswagen’s overarching goal of becoming a data and software-driven provider of sustainable mobility and its ambition to be a leader in both battery development and quantum computing applications.

“Our partnership with Xanadu is a great example of Volkswagen’s commitment to using innovative technologies such as quantum computing to accelerate the journey to 100% electric mobility solutions and to optimize our processes wherever possible,” said Dr. Arne Christian Voigt, Future Research, Volkswagen AG. “We look forward to pushing the boundaries of materials simulation and building on the fundamental research we have done to date with Xanadu’s quantum algorithms team.”

Earlier this year, Volkswagen AG and the Canadian government signed a memorandum of understanding to promote e-mobility in the country. Both parties agreed to explore opportunities for Canada to contribute to Volkswagen’s global and regional battery supply chains.

The Canadian government has invested and continues to invest heavily in quantum technologies. This investment has brought world-class talent to the country, built the quantum ecosystem, and transformed Canada into a leader in quantum technology.