When you think of teleportation, you might think of “Star Trek’s” Beam me up, Scotty, or maybe even “The Fly,” but this is different.
Scientists have transferred quantum information carried in light particles — that is, photons — 60 miles along spooled optical fiber.
The technique won’t transport you and an errant insect from one location to another, but it could advanced quantum computing, unhackable encryption of computer data and even one day lead to a quantum Internet.
The quantum information we’re talking about is the information contained in one photon — its specific time slot in a sequence. It’s called a quantum state and like other aspects of quantum science, the explanation goes beyond the normal, everyday experience.
Essentially, Hiroki Takesue, a NIST guest researcher from NTT in Japan, and his team were able to transfer the quantum state from one photon to another over that 60-mile distance. This infographic from NIST explains the leap.
Although other scientists have tired this before, teleporting the quantum state of a photon down an optical fiber has not been easy. Frequently, much of the quantum data became lost in the fiber and transmission rates over distances were very low.
“Only about 1 percent of photons make it all the way through 100 km of fiber,” Marty Stevens, a NIST researcher, said in a press release.
But Takesue and his team used a new type of single-photon detector developed at NIST.
Although the distance set a record, the researchers have a way to go before we see an unhackable, unbreakable quantum Internet and ever farther before we can teleport to the office to avoid rush hour.
Takesue reported the results in the journal “Optica.”