Physicists Quantum Teleport Photons Over 88 Miles
Last May, European researchers reported successfully teleporting photons over a distance of 143 km – a little over 88 miles- between two Canary Islands. When I discussed this finding at the time, one of the caveats I had mentioned about this experiment is that it hadn’t yet been peer-reviewed. Well, now it has. The researchers’ findings have been reviewed and published in Nature. The previous record of 97 kilometers by a team of researchers in China was published in Nature earlier this month.
Those researchers, who are affiliated with the Austrian Academy of Sciences and other European organizations, used lasers to teleport a photon from one Canary Island to the other. This was a process that required several key innovations, because the most common teleportation solution – using optical fiber – wasn’t an option due to signal degradation.
Xiao-song Ma, one of the scientists involved in the experiment, said in a press release that “The realization of quantum teleportation over a distance of 143 km has been a huge technological challenge.”
While quantum teleportation doesn’t lead to instantaneous communication, what it does lead to is incredibly secure communications. That’s because no matter what instructions the sender sends over normal communications channels, those instructions are completely useless without the receiver’s entangled photon. And the sender doesn’t have to know the location of the receiver’s entangled photon. It could be anywhere – there’s no way to track it.
Of course, there’s still a long way to go – decades, perhaps – before this produces any kind of practical communications device. These researchers, however, are eager to move on to the next step – quantum teleportation between the Earth’s surface and a satellite.
“The next step is satellite-based quantum teleportation, which should enable quantum communication on a global scale. We have now taken a major step in this direction and will use our know-how in an international cooperation, which involves our colleagues at the Chinese Academy of Sciences. The goal is to launch a ‘quantum satellite mission’.”
If that mission is successful, then we might start seeing the backbone of a satellite-based, secure, quantum Internet. The applications could be quite fascinating.
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(Image Credit: IQOQI/Vienna)