November 15, 2012
The quantum internet is coming,
and this is how we're going to
Xiao-Hui Bao, et al.
Sometimes itís tough to get excited about stuff happening in quantum technologies, not because itís anything less than fascinating but because it can be so hard to wrap your head around this stuff and anyhow the practical applications often seem very far away.
But this is one of those milestones that
you have to appreciate: Physicists have for the first time
teleported quantum information from one
macroscopic object to another.
Quick quantum primer: This isnít Star Trek-style teleportation, but the transfer of information - of quantum states - from one place to another without that information crossing the space between them in any way.
This is achieved through the strange
quantum phenomenon of entanglement, which allows two quantum objects
to share the same quantum state such that if you influence one
particle you also influence the other, whether they are separated by
nanometers or light-years.
Researchers have done this before, between photons, between ions, and even between a macroscopic object and a microscopic object.
But now Chinese researchers have, for the first time, achieved quantum teleportation between two macroscopic objects across nearly 500 feet using entangled photons. Thatís pretty huge...
The two bundles of rubidium atoms that served as sender and receiver are more or less analogs for what we hope will someday be our ďquantum InternetĒ - a system of routers like the ones we have now that, instead of beaming information around a vast network of fiber optic wires, will send and receive information through entangled photons.
So in a way, this is like a first proof
of concept, evidence that the idea works at least in the lab.
Sounds easy enough...