A team of researchers claim to have achieved sustained, long-distance quantum teleportation for the first time.
The research could lay the groundwork for “a viable quantum internet — a network in which information stored in qubits is shared over long distances through entanglement” that could “transform the fields of data storage, precision sensing and computing,” according to a Fermilab statement.
The team — a collaboration between the U.S. Department of Energy’s Fermilab, the University of Calgary, and other partners —managed to teleport qubits of photons over 44 kilometers of fiber.
The process doesn’t actually involve teleportation in the traditional sense. Quantum teleportation is the transfer of quantum states from one location to another. Through quantum entanglement, two particles in separate locations are connected by an invisible force, famously referred to as “spooky action at a distance” by Albert Einstein.
Regardless of the distance, the encoded information shared by the “entangled” pair of particles can be passed between them.
By sharing these quantum qubits, the basic units of quantum computing, researchers are hoping to create networks of quantum computers that can share information at blazing-fast speeds.
“This is an advancement towards a more readily available scaling up of such systems in different locations, to build a bigger system,” Christoph Simon, professor of physics at the University of Calgary and co-author of the accompanying study published in the Physical Review journal earlier this month, said in the university’s statement about the research.
But keeping this information flow stable over long distances has proven extremely difficult. The previous world record was held by researchers at the University of Calgary, covering a distance of just six kilometers, as VICE reports.
Researchers are now hoping to scale up such a system, using both entanglement to send information and quantum memory to store it as well.
In July, the US Department of Energy unveiled a blueprint for the first quantum internet, connecting several of its National Laboratories across the country.