A research team in China has completed the first successful teleportation of a quantum-paired photon from the surface of the Earth to a satellite in orbit, at the same time breaking the distance record for the process.
Chinese scientists working at a high-altitude research station in Tibet have used the “entanglement” quantum process to send one of a pair of photons located on Earth into orbit and observe its twin being affected in the same way at the same moment.
The process of teleportation is a standard scientific operation using the phenomenon of entanglement, which happens when two objects, such as photons, form at the same time and place, essentially sharing the same existence, according to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Technology Review.
The quantum entanglement of objects, in this case the two photons simultaneously created by the Chinese team, also entails that the relationship continues even when objects are separated, meaning that whatever changes occur to one object simultaneously occur to the other.
The two objects that are quantum entangled are in theory forever bound to each other, regardless of physical distance or — if it can be proven — time.
The Chinese team was able to beam one of two entangled photons into orbit and observe that the entanglement process was still in effect.
This is by far the longest distance that teleportation using quantum entanglement has been shown to work.
“Previous teleportation experiments between distant locations were limited to a distance on the order of 100 kilometers, due to photon loss in optical fibers or terrestrial free-space channels,” stated the Chinese research team in a news release cited by MIT.
“We report the first quantum teleportation of independent single-photon qubits from a ground observatory to a low Earth orbit satellite — through an uplink channel — with a distance up to 1400 km,” stated the Chinese scientists.
The unprecedented event marks the first occurrence of an object being teleported from Earth to orbit, breaking the previous distance record.
“This work establishes the first ground-to-satellite up-link for faithful and ultra-long-distance quantum teleportation, an essential step toward global-scale quantum internet,” the team said.
With the groundbreaking results, China now clearly dominates a field that was formerly led by Europe and the US.