NIST Researchers Break Distance Record For Quantum Teleportation

Posted: Sep 23 2015, 5:00am CDT | by , Updated: Sep 23 2015, 9:09pm CDT, in Latest Science News


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Distance Record Set for Quantum Teleportation
Teleportation takes place inside an ion trap made of gold electrodes deposited onto alumina. The trap area is the horizontal opening near the center of the image. Credit: NIST
  • Group of Researchers breaks Teleportation Record
  • Distance Record Set for Quantum Teleportation

A group of researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has broken the teleportation record. This brings us closer to the “Beam Me Up, Scotty” scenario presented in Star Trek.

The experts at NIST have successfully been able to teleport info in the form of photons over 100 kilometers of optical fiber. This is a much greater distance than normally covered in the teleportation experiments that have been carried out so far.

In fact, the record has been broken by going four times the previous distance. This proves that teleportation is possible over longer distances as well. While experiments have been conducted in space, this is the first time that fiber optics were used in the repertoire of the research.

The case shown in Star Trek is a probably a billion years away. There you have whole objects and human bodies being teleported across vast distances. But at present this is possible only on the level of particles.

Quantum information is used in computing too. It might come in handy in encryption and coding in future times. The whole thing got off the ground some two decades ago. One of the major experiments was carried out by NIST about 11 years ago.

The novel record that was set involved a single photon that carried quantum information to another photon. The relay channel was a 100 kilometers of wound fiber in the NIST laboratory.

Credit: K. Irvine/NIST

“Only about 1 percent of photons make it all the way through 100 km of fiber,” NIST’s Marty Stevens says. “We never could have done this experiment without these new detectors, which can measure this incredibly weak signal.”

This whole setup was made a reality via advanced single photon detectors. A mere single digit fraction of the photons made it through the spool of fiber optical wire. It was only thanks to the detectors that the very weak signal was picked up at the end point. Most of the quantum information was dissipated along the distance of the cable.

This teleportation strategy could be used to construct quantum repeaters which send the data again and again across tha relay lines. The ultimate goal is the making of a “Quantum Internet” which would be light years ahead of the current World Wide Web.

It was previously thought that atoms were the stuff of teleportation. But now it is clear that it is photons or light particles that are the necessary ingredient in the mix. The detectors used in the experiments were dependent upon superconductor nano-wires made of molybdenum silicide.

These super sensitive detectors can scan more than 80% of photons that arrive at their destination. As for the wavelengths used in the experiments, they were the same as are employed in our everyday communication technology systems.

The scientists detailed their findings online on Tuesday, September 22nd in the journal Optica.

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