Physicists Achieve Quantum Teleportation Across a Distance of 10 Miles

By Andrew Moseman | May 25, 2010 3:20 pm

QTeleportHow far can you beam information instantaneously? Try 10 miles, according to a study in Nature Photonics that pushes the limits of quantum teleportation to its greatest distance yet. At that distance, the scientists say, one can begin to consider the possibility of someday using quantum teleportation to communicate between the ground and a satellite in orbit.

As stories about quantum teleportation usually note, this isn’t the Starship Enterprise’s transporter: The weird quantum phenomenon makes it possible to send information, not matter, across a distance.

It works by entangling two objects, like photons or ions. The first teleportation experiments involved beams of light. Once the objects are entangled, they’re connected by an invisible wave, like a thread or umbilical cord. That means when something is done to one object, it immediately happens to the other object, too. Einstein called this “spooky action at a distance.” [Popular Science]

Previous experiments achieved this phenomenon in photons separated by a distance of hundreds of yards, connected by fiber channels. But the physicists in China blew that distance away, and with 89 percent integrity for the information.

In this particular experiment, researchers maximally entangled two photons using both spatial and polarization modes and sent the one with higher energy through a ten-mile-long free space channel. They found that the distant photon was still able to respond to changes in state of the photon they held onto even at this unprecedented distance. [Ars Technica]

More recent developments in the strange quantum world:

Cryptography: Last month researchers announced a way to make quantum cryptography, a way to encode information that relies on the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, 100 times faster than previous experiments could.

Coherence: In quantum coherence, photons can enter a multi-state existence in which they simultaneously travel multiple paths, but then at the end choose only the fastest route (a counter-intuitive talent I wish I possessed). Researchers have found this happens in plants, which helps make photosynthesis so efficient.

Entanglement: This month physicists in Israel managed to entangle five separate photons. That’s not the overall record (which is six). But the scientists say their five entangled photons could only choose one of two paths, and that’s the kind of system that would someday be used in quantum communication or computing.

The quantum state: We don’t witness the oddball behaviors of the quantum world on the scale our naked eyes can see, but in March physicists put the largest object ever into a quantum state.

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Image: Jian-Wei Pan et. al

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Physics & Math
  • hmm

    Commercial use will kill all integrity concerning this experiments full potential.

  • Neo

    Entanglement: This month physicists in Israel managed to entangle five separate photons. That’s not the overall record (which is six). But the scientists say their five entangled electrons could only choose one of two paths, and that’s the kind of system that would someday be used in quantum communication or computing.

    Which are entangled, photons or electrons?

  • http://sacrilicio.us Matunos

    Are they able to actually send information instantaneously, or just detect unknown state changes? I was under the impression that quantum entanglement did not allow for superluminal information exchange. I thought you can’t control the state of what you observe, you can only know that it’s entangled with the observation at the other end.

    I.e. you can’t send me a specific message faster than light by manipulating entangled particles… but you can observe the particles, causing waveform collapse into a random state, and I will then see the complementary state when I observe the entangled property.

    No?

  • Elissa

    I just love that Einstein officially called it “spooky”. =)

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/80beats/ Eliza Strickland

    @ Neo:

    they were photons. Thanks for catching the typo.

    — Eliza, DISCOVER online news editor

  • Jenny

    Oh, make it or explain it easier, think about the people who’s English language is their second language!!!

  • Walter Voigt

    You state at the beginning: “The weird quantum phenomenon makes it possible to send information but not matter across a distance. It works by entangling two objects like photons or ions”
    Aren’t ions matter also?

  • Glenn

    Re: 4. Elissa Says:
    > I just love that Einstein officially called it “spooky”. =)

    He officially called it “spukhafte Fernwirkung”. “Spooky” is closer to slang in English than “spukhafte” is in German, but it’s a reasonable translation.

  • anne

    whichever hedge fund manages to replicate this first gets all teh $$$ in the world!!!

  • http://40yearoldfanboy.blogspot.com/ Vinnie Bartilucci

    This story, or something like it, has popped up every so often for a couple years from now, and each time people’s reaction goes like this…

    “Oh wow, so they like, what, teleported a chair or a banana or something?”

    “Well, no, they teleported an atom”

    “Oh, OK, well that’s still pretty cool.”

    “Well, technically all they did was make one atom just LIKE another, they didn’t actually teleport it, per se”

    “OK, you’re just screwing with me now, right?”

  • David

    This is quite amazing. The future generations of this technology could be used for deep space communication. you would probably never be able to send video footage this way… Or perhaps you could if you were using photons. But just imagining being able to transfer information from one point to another billions of miles away instantaneously? That’s why I love what science does for humanity.

  • Seb

    Well you still have to entangle the photons and then send one of the photons to were you want the “teleportation” to happen. The spooky part is that once entangled, the pair sort of act as one and anything that happens to one of the photons, affects the other. It has to do with having all of the possible outcomes encoded into the photons (by nature), in other words, every possibility is worked out before hand and then forcing one photon to become one of the possibilities forces the other to enter that possibility, because they are entangled.

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