Scientists achieve long-distance quantum teleportation – paving the way for unhackable networks

Scientists have demonstrated long-distance quantum teleportation. This is the instant transfer of units of quantum information known as qubits – for the first time. 

The process does not actually involve teleportation in the traditional sense. Quantum teleportation is the transfer of quantum states from one location to another. Through quantum entanglement, two particles in separate locations are connected by an invisible force

According to a paper published in PRX Quantum the qubits were transferred faster than the speed of light over a distance of 27 miles, laying the foundations for a quantum internet service, which could one day revolutionise computing.

Panagiotis Spentzouris, head of the Fermilab quantum science program and one of the paper’s co-authors said “We’re thrilled by these results, this is a key achievement on the way to building a technology that will redefine how we conduct global communication.”

A functional quantum Internet, a network in which information stored in qubits is shared over long distances through entanglement, would change the fields of secure communication, data storage, precision sensing, and computing. High-fidelity quantum teleportation is essential for secure long-distance communications and a practical quantum Internet. This work presents—for the first time—sustained, long-distance (44 km of fiber) teleportation of time-bin qubits featuring state-of-the-art fidelity (>90%) and narrow-band photons with narrow-band entangled photon pairs. The experimental results are supported by an analytical model that accurately accounts for experimental imperfections.

The measurements are performed on the Caltech and Fermilab Quantum Network test beds (CQNET, FQNET), two teleportation systems that have been designed, built, commissioned, and deployed by Caltech’s multidisciplinary multi-institutional public-private research program on Intelligent Quantum Networks and Technologies (IN-Q-NET). IN-Q-NET was jointly founded in 2017 by Caltech, AT&T, Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

These unique quantum network test beds use state-of-the-art solid-state light detectors in a compact fiber-based setup and feature near-autonomous data acquisition, control, monitoring, synchronization, and analysis. The teleportation systems, which are compatible both with existing telecommunication infrastructure and with emerging quantum processing and storage devices, represent a significant milestone towards a practical quantum Internet.

These networks are currently being used to improve the fidelity and rate of entanglement distribution, with an emphasis on complex quantum communication protocols and fundamental science. The networks are accessible to multidisciplinary researchers for research and development purposes and will serve both fundamental quantum information science and the development of advanced quantum technologies.

Duncan Newell

Duncan is a technology professional with over 20 years experience of working in various IT roles. He has a interest in cyber security, and has a wide range of other skills in radio, electronics and telecommunications.

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