Chinese scientists have successfully teleported a photon from our planet into space, achieving quantum teleportation at a great distance for the first time in history.
Researchers from the University of Science and Technology of China in Shanghai launched the photon from Ngari in Tibet, some 870 miles into a Chinese research satellite, reports Inverse, Launched just last year into a sun-synchronous orbit, the Micius satellite is a highly sensitive photon receiver that is developed to identify quantum states of single photons fired from the ground.
While the experiment did not involve “beaming up” physical matter as featured in popular sci-fi lore, achieving quantum teleportation meant that the scientists were able to instantaneously transfer quantum information from one particle to another across a great distance.
To achieve this, two or more particles have to be “entangled” in a manner that while they exist in two different places they are actually the same particle.
They share the same identity as they came into existence at the exact same time and place, even when separated. Strangely, whatever happens to one happens to the other too, despite the distance.
Theoretical physicist Albert Einstein dubbed the process as “spooky action at a distance.”
“We report the first quantum teleportation of independent single-photon qubits from a ground observatory to a low Earth orbit satellite – through an up-link channel – with a distance up to 1400 km,” the research paper noted.
This marks the first time an object has been teleported into space while smashing the quantum entanglement distance record that the same research team has set seven years ago.
In 2010, the Chinese scientists teleported photons over 60 miles on Earth, which at the time was an amazing feat in itself.
What makes the new experiment even more impressive is that the Chinese scientists have already breached the atmosphere in separating two entangled particles.
Over long trips, entanglement is often ruined when photons are moved through the traditional medium such as fiber optic cables.
To date, China has so far made six successful quantum teleportations to space. In each trial, two particles were entangled on the ground and one was transported into the orbiting research satellite.
With the scientists being able to teleport a quantum bit of information from one photon to another at long distances, China has indeed made leaps of progress in quantum communication and achieving the very first steps to developing a network for quantum-encrypted communication and quantum computing.