A team of scientists from China reported that they have successfully conducted the first “quantum teleportation” into space. They used the Micius satellite that was launched in August 2016, which was designed specifically to perform advanced quantum experiments such as this. The scientists used pairs of entangled particles to recreate the exact same properties of a photon on Earth in a photon in orbit.
According Ji-Gang Ren, of the University of Science and Technology of China, and colleagues,
They were able to accomplish “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 1,400 km”.
When we talk about quantum teleportation, there is no actual teleportation of objects that occur. It is more of a way of transmitting information about a particle, and is reproduced in a different place to the most accurate detail. This technology is already used in different laboratories on earth.
Entanglement is a property of particles that is created simultaneously which exists in a shared state– wherein actions that affect one particle also affects the other. This property holds true even if the particles are separated by great distances.
In the year 1993, physicists found out that entanglement can be used to accurately copy the quantum state of a particle, and then paste it onto another particle. This in turn makes the second particle identical in all aspects other than the location it is in. This makes it seem that the first particle has been cloned, or teleported.
Source: YouTube, minutephysics
Since this kind of teleportation copies the quantum state of the first particle accurately, this could be used to transmit qubits, which are quantum bits that are used in quantum computation.
Since there is no physical teleportation that takes place, and this process is already being done in different laboratories in space, what makes this discovery so special?
Well, it is amazing in the field of engineering to be able to manage the required precision and sensitivity when a distant satellite moving at great speed is involved. Also the researchers have a lot of things planned for the future: Since this “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 1,400 km”.