Dutch Scientists Achieve Quantum Teleportation Breakthrough

By Damon Poeter
May 31, 2014 11:47am EST
Using diamonds to create "quantum bits," Dutch researchers can transfer information instantaneously across space with no degradation.

quantim1We may not have Star Trek-esque transporter technology any time soon—or ever—but Dutch researchers this week reported a breakthrough in the quantum teleportation of information, opening the door to a potential revolution in computing and networking.

Scientists at the Delft University of Technology's Kavli Institute of Nanoscience managed to transfer information contained in one quantum bit, or qubit, to another "entangled" qubit about 10 feet away "without the information having traveled through the intervening space," Prof. Ronald Hanson, head of the research group wrote in a summary.

In other words, as Hanson noted, "teleportation."

The Dutch researchers reported that there was no degradation in the information transferred between the two quantum bits, potentially a major advance in the pursuit of quantum teleportation. In the past several years, other scientists around the world have devised ways to better measure the information contained in qubits without altering them in the process and managed to teleport information "instantaneously" across distances as great as 90 miles.

Hanson's team plans to repeat their quantum teleportation experiment with qubits separated at longer distances, up to nearly a mile. The researchers fashion their qubits using electrons in diamonds, they said.

"We use diamonds because 'mini prisons' for electrons are formed in this material whenever a nitrogen atom is located in the position of one of the carbon atoms. The fact that we're able to view these miniature prisons individually makes it possible for us to study and verify an individual electron and even a single atomic nucleus," Hanson said.

"We're able to set the spin (rotational direction) of these particles in a predetermined state, verify this spin and subsequently read out the data. We do all this in a material that can be used to make chips out of. This is important as many believe that only chip-based systems can be scaled up to a practical technology."

Quantum entanglement allows for entangled particles like qubits to immediately share information even if separated by great distances in a seeming loophole in the universe's speed limit, the speed of light. Entanglement was famously described by Albert Einstein as "spooky action at a distance," and Hanson called it "arguably the strangest and most intriguing consequence of the laws of quantum mechanics."

"This development is an important step towards a quantum network for communication between future ultra-fast quantum computers—a quantum Internet," he said. "Quantum computers will be able to solve certain important problems that even today's supercomputers are unable to tackle. Furthermore, a quantum Internet will enable completely secure information transfer, as surreptitious eavesdropping will be fundamentally impossible in such a network."Hanson and his team have published their findings in the current issue of Science.

"Quantum Teleportation"

This is a short animation that attempts to make sense of quantum mechanics and the method of quantum teleportation

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