A quantum simulator is a restricted class of quantum computer that controls the interactions between quantum bits in a way that can be mapped to certain difficult quantum many-body problems. As more control is exerted over larger numbers of qubits, the simulator can tackle a wider range of problems, with the ultimate limit being a universal quantum computer that can solve general classes of hard problems. We use a quantum simulator composed of up to 53 qubits to study a non-equilibrium phase transition in the transverse field Ising model of magnetism, in a regime where conventional statistical mechanics does not apply. The qubits are represented by trapped ion spins that can be prepared in a variety of initial pure states. We apply a global long-range Ising interaction with controllable strength and range, and measure each individual qubit with near 99% efficiency. This allows the single-shot measurement of arbitrary many-body correlations for the direct probing of the dynamical phase transition and the uncovering of computationally intractable features that rely on the long-range interactions and high connectivity between the qubits.

%B Nature %V 551 %P 601-604 %8 2017/11/29 %G eng %U https://www.nature.com/articles/nature24654 %R 10.1038/nature24654