A team from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) announced that they were able to ‘teleport’ quantum data from point A to point B four times farther than they did in a previous experiment.
Researchers said that the information was carried by light particles also known as photons on a 63-mile-long optical fiber.
The feat suggests that long-distance quantum teleportation may soon become reality through fiber-optic lines. Past studies revealed that quantum teleportation is possible in empty space, as well, but it is safer and more secure to transport it via optical fibers.
The teleportation experiment has nothing to do with Star Trek’s teleportation because in the Sci-Fi series scientists knew exactly what form matter should take at the other end, while in quantum physics the final quantum state of the matter remains largely unknown.
Teleportation is useful in quantum computing because it could lead to impossible-to-crack networks and bullet-proof encryption methods. The first time scientists thought about quantum teleportation was two decades ago, but they lacked the necessary technology.
NIST has been experimenting with the concept for more than a decade. The laboratory first used atoms in their experiments, but photons are faster and more easily to manipulate.
Researchers explained that they were able to embed a photon with quantum data, teleport that data and reconstruct it into another photon located 63 miles (102 km) away. The experiment was conduced via an optical wire in a Colorado facility.
Hiroki Takesue, lead author of the study and a NTT researcher in Japan, explained that the experiment was successful because the team had access to state-of-the-art photon detectors designed by NIST.
Takesue noted that only 1 percent of photons were successful in delivering the data to the other end of the 63-mile-long fiber.
“We never could have done this experiment without these new detectors, which can measure this incredibly weak signal,”
NIST scientists now plan to improve the technology and make sure that transmission rates and distances will steadily increase. They even dream about a ‘quantum internet’ in the foreseeable future.
Such project could be done with help from quantum repeaters, or hubs that resend quantum data periodically to ensure a wider reach of the quantum network. Atom-based repeaters often had slow transmission rates, so the photon-based ones may soon solve a lot of technological hurdles engineers had to overcome.
Yet, the photon-based teleportation method needs to be improved since in just 25 percent of cases transmissions are successful.
Image Source: Wikimedia
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