21 July 2017
In this week’s “News in Brief” section, Nature has highlighted a study in which Chinese researchers have been able to demonstrate quantum teletransportation between an Earth observatory and a satellite, located in an orbit at approximately 500km of height.
Up to now, scientists around the world have been testing Einstein’s “spooky action at a distance” and have succeeded in transmitting information between entangled particles when these were separated distances of the order of 100km. Obstacles to increasing this distance include photon losses in air or degradation of the signal within fiber optic cables as a function of the distance.
Now, Chinese scientists have made a gigantic step forward reporting the teletransportation of quantum states of entangled particles from a satellite orbiting the Earth, achieving the longest distance attained to date. China’s Quantum Experiments at Space Scale (QUESS) were mounted on a satellite called Mozi, which launched into space in August of 2016. Scientists have been able to 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 results of this study signify a major step forward for the development of both scientific and technologies applications” states ICREA Prof. at ICFO Valerio Pruneri, co-author of SpaceQuest, a quantum space satellite mission proposal presented to the European Space Agency (ESA). Such applications will definitely facilitate the ultra-secure, unhackable communications that are needed by governments, bank transactions, health protocols, among many others.