Toward simulating quantum field theories with controlled phonon-ion dynamics: A hybrid analog-digital approach
Quantum field theories are the cornerstones of modern physics, providing relativistic and quantum mechanical descriptions of physical systems at the most fundamental level. Simulating real-time dynamics within these theories remains elusive in classical computing. This provides a unique opportunity for quantum simulators, which hold the promise of revolutionizing our simulation capabilities. Trapped-ion systems are successful quantum-simulator platforms for quantum many-body physics and can operate in digital, or gate-based, and analog modes. Inspired by the progress in proposing and realizing quantum simulations of a number of relativistic quantum field theories using trapped-ion systems, and by the hybrid analog-digital proposals for simulating interacting boson-fermion models, we propose hybrid analog-digital quantum simulations of selected quantum field theories, taking recent developments to the next level. On one hand, the semi-digital nature of this proposal offers more flexibility in engineering generic model interactions compared with a fully-analog approach. On the other hand, encoding the bosonic fields onto the phonon degrees of freedom of the trapped-ion system allows a more efficient usage of simulator resources, and a more natural implementation of intrinsic quantum operations in such platforms. This opens up ways for simulating complex dynamics of, e.g., Abelian and non-Abelian gauge theories, by combining the benefits of digital and analog schemes.