Scientists at NASA have achieved long-distance ‘quantum teleportation’ for the very first time.
In collaboration with researchers at Fermilab, AT&T, Caltech, Harvard University and the University of Calgary, the research team successfully completed an instant transfer of ‘qubits’, which is the basic unit of quantum information.
In a research paper published on the project, the team described how they were able to demonstrate a sustained, long-distance teleportation of qubits of photons (quanta of light) with fidelity greater than 90%.
This terminology doesn’t mean all that much to me personally, but from I can gather, scientists used quantum entanglement to successfully ‘teleport’ signals instantly and faster than the speed of light, from one destination to another, which happened to be 44 kilometres apart.
As the press release explains: “Quantum teleportation is a ‘disembodied’ transfer of quantum states from one location to another. The quantum teleportation of a qubit is achieved using quantum entanglement, in which two or more particles are inextricably linked to each other. If an entangled pair of particles is shared between two separate locations, no matter the distance between them, the encoded information is teleported.”
As for how this impacts us? Well, the scientific breakthrough does not mean you’ll be able to teleport to Italy for aperitivo hour, however, it does bring us closer to achieving a viable quantum internet.
The paper explains: “A viable quantum internet — a network in which information stored in qubits is shared over long distances through entanglement — would transform the fields of data storage, precision sensing and computing, ushering in a new era of communication.”
A quantum communication system would result in a far more secure online network. Since it relies on photons rather than computer code, there is no way for hackers to get in.
Not only that, but a quantum computer running on a quantum internet would run around 100 trillion times faster than the world’s most current and fastest supercomputers.
“We’re thrilled by these results,” Fermilab scientist, Panagiotis Spentzouris, head of the Fermilab quantum science program and one of the paper’s co-authors, said. “This is a key achievement on the way to building a technology that will redefine how we conduct global communication.”
Scientists will now continue to work on the new technology, says Maria Spiropulu, Shang-Yi Ch’en professor of physics at Caltech. “The results will be further improved with system upgrades we are expecting to complete by Q2 2021.”