Chinese engineers have broken the record for quantum teleportation by successfully pairing particles over a distance of 97km.
This process does not involve the same physical object disappearing and reappearing in a new location, but rather quantum entanglement, whereby two particles act as one system, despite being two seperate entitites.
Essentially, a photon transmits its quantum state to another photon, which becomes a clone of the original.
The real-world application of this research is the potential for instant data transfers.
The data doesn't travel through physical space, and therefore is much harder to be hacked or intercepted.
Experts believe this will be an invaluable way for governments to transmit classified information in the future.
"Our result represents an important step towards a global quantum network," says the paper published by researchers from the University of Science and Technology of China in Shanghai.
Scientists have long struggled to harness the power of quantum entanglement in the lab.
The paired particles, known as 'qubits', can easily become untangled due to disturbences such as air turbulence, and this risk increases over distance.
But this group of engineers claim to have overcome these challenges, using a 1.3 watt laser to ensure the beam connecting the twin photons stays on target.
Using this technique, the team was able to "teleport" more than 1100 photons across a lake in China, smashing the previous record of 16km, which was set by a different group of Chinese researchers in 2010.
While full-scale teleportation of humans in the style of Star Trek may be some way off, this team of engineers already has its sights set on satellite-based cryptography.
"Our results show that even with high-loss ground to satellite uplink channels, quantum teleportation can be realised," says the paper.
This procedure could provide super-secure communications all around the world.
- Sydney Morning Herald
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