Chinese researchers have managed to teleport a photon up to new satellite ‘Micius’, over 500 kilometres above the ground.
Teleportation has already been used successfully in labs on earth, however such an out-of-this-world distance has previously been limited, partly due to photons interacting with atmospheric matter.
Progress with teleportation captures the imagination. Imagine the possibilities of putting out complex information and objects into the far reaches of space…
Ok, it's 'only' a photon, but very impressive and mind blowing – teleportation through quantum entanglement! https://t.co/JeSCiJSo1m
— Kate Larkin (@larkin_kate) July 11, 2017
But before you get too excited, this process did not involve moving the photon in a physical sense and so you probably won’t be able to beam yourself up to the moon any time soon.
Instead, this amazing feat was achieved through a science-fiction-worthy process known as ‘quantum entanglement’, where two particles act as one without sharing any physical connection whatsoever.
Ian Walmsley, Hooke Professor of Experimental Physics at Oxford University, offers the following explanation:
How it works, its really communicating information in a way that harnesses quantum mechanics. So they have information in one photon that they have on earth and a second photon that is up in the satellite. and they are able to transfer the information from one to another.
The second photon adopts the ‘identity’ of the first photon, as information is passed from one to the other. Ultimately, it becomes the first photon. Think of it as kind of like a download…
This huge scientific breakthrough looks set to bring about some exciting developments. Warmsley suggests that this new technology could eventually be used to create a cloud based quantum computing network, allowing for developments in secure long distance communications.
The Micius team in China responsible for the teleportation have made the following statement:
This work establishes the first ground-to-satellite up-link for faithful and ultra-long-distance quantum teleportation, an essential step toward global-scale quantum internet.
This breakthrough also helps to solidify China as a major influential player in the global technology industry, as it moves ahead of traditionally more dominant countries in the field.