Quantum Information Was Teleported Over a Network For The First Time

When Heroes (now streaming on Peacock!) strike the airwaves in September of 2006, few characters were as immediately loved as the appropriately named Hiro Nakamura. Granted the ability to control space-time, Hiro could not only slow down, speed up, and stop time, he could also teleport from one place to another. That’s a useful adeptness if you need to get to a specific point in time and space to fight an evil brain surgeon or avert the end of the world. It’s also useful if you want to make the quantum internet. 

Physicists at QuTech — a teamwork between Delft University of Technology and the Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research — recently took a big step toward forming that a reality. For the first time, they succeeded in hurling quantum information between non-adjacent qubits on a rudimentary network. Their analysis was recently published in the journal Nature. 

That’s where Hiro Nakamura advances, or at least his quantum complement. In order to reliably transfer quantum information, physicists use quantum teleportation, a phenomenon that depend upon on entanglement or what Einstein called "spooky action at a distance." 

Using that spooky interconnection, physicists can transfer information between the two particles and that data appears at one particle and vanishes at the other instantly. That’s where the connection to teleportation comes in. Importantly, only information is transmitted, not any physical matter. 

Quantum teleportation isn’t exactly latest. It’s been done before, but always between two directly linked entangled particles. In communications colloquial, it’s the quantum equivalent of talking to your friend in the next room using couple of cans joined by a string. In order to produce a true quantum network, we need to be able to transfer information between non-adjacent nodes using intermediaries. 

Once that’s done, Charlie prepares the data he wants to transmit and completes a complicated calculations between his message and his half of the entanglement with Alice. Quantum mechanics goes to work, and the data dissipate on Charlie’s end and appears on Alice’s. 

While this is a vital step toward a quantum internet, in order to made the sorts of networks we’ll need for everyday use, we’re going to require a lot more nodes. But, hey, today’s worldwide communications network started with a single telephone. 

Reference: Nature 

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