Science

Scientists teleport quantum information across the room

Scientists teleport quantum in...
Simulated view of teleporting qubits between diamonds (Image: Hanson lab at TU Delft)
Simulated view of teleporting qubits between diamonds (Image: Hanson lab at TU Delft)
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One of the two chips used in the teleportation experiment (Photo: Hanson lab at TU Delft)
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One of the two chips used in the teleportation experiment (Photo: Hanson lab at TU Delft)
The experimental setup (Photo: Hanson lab at TU Delft)
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The experimental setup (Photo: Hanson lab at TU Delft)
Close-up of apparatus (Photo: Hanson lab at TU Delft)
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Close-up of apparatus (Photo: Hanson lab at TU Delft)
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Close-up of chip surface (Image: Hanson lab at TU Delft)
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Close-up of chip surface (Image: Hanson lab at TU Delft)
An electron microscope image of one of the two devices, with a fictitious teleportation beam added (Image: Hanson lab at TU Delft)
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An electron microscope image of one of the two devices, with a fictitious teleportation beam added (Image: Hanson lab at TU Delft)
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Simulated view of teleporting qubits between diamonds (Image: Hanson lab at TU Delft)
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Simulated view of teleporting qubits between diamonds (Image: Hanson lab at TU Delft)

Researchers working at TU Delft's Kavli Institute of Nanoscience in the Netherlands claim to have successfully transferred data via teleportation. By exploiting the quantum phenomenon known as particle entanglement, the team says it transferred information across a 3 m (10 ft) distance, without the information actually traveling through the intervening space.

"Entanglement is arguably the strangest and most intriguing consequence of the laws of quantum mechanics," said the head of the research project, Professor Ronald Hanson. "When two particles become entangled, their identities merge: their collective state is precisely determined, but the individual identity of each of the particles has disappeared. The entangled particles behave as one, even when separated by a large distance."

As electrons in an atom exist in orbits around a nucleus – like the way that the Earth spins on its axis – electrons also have "spin." When two electrons are entangled (that is, when they interact physically) and are then forcibly separated, the spin information on each becomes opposite to the other; they are essentially turned into mirror images.

However – and this is the bit that Einstein found "creepy" in his rejection of the entanglement theory – when one of the entangled electrons has its spin direction changed by some means, the other electron immediately reverses its own spin direction. The distance in the Kavli Institute tests was 3 m (10 ft) but, theoretically, this distance could have been hundreds of light years.

An electron microscope image of one of the two devices, with a fictitious teleportation beam added (Image: Hanson lab at TU Delft)
An electron microscope image of one of the two devices, with a fictitious teleportation beam added (Image: Hanson lab at TU Delft)

In this case, the team teleported information contained in one quantum bit (or qubit, the quantum analog of a standard computer bit) to a completely separate quantum bit, using specially-designed computer chips. Each chip featured a synthetic diamond to contain the entangled electrons and several nitrogen atoms. Data was then encoded for transmission in the transmitting diamond’s nitrogen atom as alterations of the spin of the electron. The electron in the receiver diamond then showed the opposite of that manipulation at precisely the time that the transmission was "sent."

"We use diamonds because 'mini prisons' for electrons are formed in this material whenever a nitrogen atom is located in the position of one of the carbon atoms," explained Hanson. "The fact that we're able to view these miniature prisons individually makes it possible for us to study and verify an individual electron and even a single atomic nucleus. We're able to set the spin (rotational direction) of these particles in a predetermined state, verify this spin and subsequently read out the data."

One practical upshot of this work is the idea of a future quantum network for communication – a quantum internet – between ultra-fast quantum computers. This should also enable completely secure information transfer, as eavesdropping will be fundamentally impossible in such a network because quantum mechanics guarantees that measuring quantum data affects that data, so any changes will be immediately recognized.

In future experiments, the TU Delft team is planning on increasing the distance to more than 1,300 m (4,200 ft) with chips housed in several buildings across the university campus. The researchers hope to be the first to realize evidence to disprove Einstein’s rejection of the entanglement theory.

The team's research was published in the journal Science.

The video below shows members of the TU Delft team explaining the proposed experiment.

Source: TU Delft

FOM Film: Vreemde quantummechanica

24 comments
Chuck Anziulewicz
I don't know if teleportation of physical objects will ever be possible, but imagine how this might revolutionize interplanetary or interstellar communication. The fictional "ansible" used in novels by Ursula Leguin functioned according to the "Principle of Simultaneity," which as far as I can tell is not that different from quantum entanglement.
Hiel Gagarin
Love the idea! Will this enable us to send information instantaneously across the universe, violating the relativistic information cone propagation theory of Einstein?
John S. Studer
Not a first, see:Quantum "spooky action at a distance" travels at least 10,000 times faster than light By Brian Dodson March 10, 2013 http://www.gizmag.com/quantum-entanglement-speed-10000-faster-light/26587/
Snert
@ John: Yes, "Quantum enetanglement" is a known phenomenon, but I think that if you read the article here you will see that it talks about is the world first at transmitting data this way.
VirtualGathis
@John: I think the "world first" here isn't the entanglement or even maintaining it at significant distances. I think it is maintianing it while transmitting meaningful quantities of data. As you say entanglement has been done. Doing it at a distance has been done. I can not find the article but there was an experiment where some information was sent between two points that were 1000 meters apart, so the first here is the stability required to transmit more than a few bits of data.
sgdeluxedoc
Love the idea of being able to read tomorrow's news in the morning with my coffee.. More practically, this could mean instantaneous networking...
Jim Young
Beam me up, Scotty! Love it! Keep moving forward!!!! Vote Blue!
James Oss
OMg, and I don't mean the Higgs boson. Could the also be know as 'bi location'? I don't know of anything that can do that. Except... God? Surely not except He is an extra-dimensional being that is not bound by time and space. No. That just can't be. Then there is that strong nuclear force that keep the nucleus of past hydrogen atoms from flying apart. Isn't that force mediated by a particle called a 'glueon'? And, religiously doesn't the Holy Spirit mediate the love between the Father and the Son? Come on. Then again, back to the Higgs boson that imparts mass to matter in a Higgs field. New Testament describes Jesus appearing in the upper room after His resurrection. As He moved throughout it, He imparted Spirituality upon the Apostles - except Thomas who was not there at the time. No, all that is just, well, mere coincidence. But, Holy Scripture says we are made in God's image and that we have free will, and does the Universe also have free will that is called quantum happenstance in that it is non-deterministic; entropic? Naw, just luck of the draw - nothing more or less.
ODD Jim
My untrained science fiction mind is trying to grasp this concept. If you think of the separated entangled pair of particles as a microphone, and a speaker to be used for instantaneous long distant communications, of course, it still takes time to DELIVER that 1/2 entangled particle (speaker) to the other side of the universe at the speed of light. So, instantaneous communication across the universe still depends upon the speed of light , and is significant in terms of human life span. So, we will not be dialing up the Crab Nebula soon. Yet, given the suggestion that there a universal "NOW" moment across the universe suggests that there CAN BE simultaneous events every/anywhere. This also suggests that distance as we perceive it is a obstacle only for Newtonian physics.. For short distances, like across the inside a computer, these distances become relatively insignificant at the speed of light. Thus, a computer programed to discover the theory of everything ( as most really are), loaded with all knowledge that we have discovered to this moment may actually disappear into another dimension the moment it is switched on. Is it impossible to predict the future given only the past? Or, will all possible interactions of circumstance and extrapolated mixtures of information evolve into a tangible theory of everything that will allow us to predict outcomes, and direct the future? I can't wait push the ON button and see. Or, perhaps we already have, yet keep coming back to relax and vacation in this dimension.
SuperLab.TV
Dr. Desbrandes and Daniel Van Gent were doing this years ago at much greater distances using entangled lithium fluoride crystals. They documented and patented their process for equantic communications (company name). You can see the results of their tests here: http://www.e-quantic.com/