Nature News reporting on the rise of quantum simulators:
Quantum simulators are the lesser sibling of an idea in physics known as quantum computers, which have been touted for more than three decades as a way to do everything from complex modelling to code-breaking. What the simulators and computers share is an ability to operate by the rules of quantum mechanics. Where they differ is in computational power: quantum computers are general-purpose machines able to carry out any possible algorithm, whereas quantum simulators have to be tailored specifically for the problem at hand.
Haven't heard of any applications in nanoscience so far, but who knows how things develop.