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Scientists teleport quantum information across the room

By

June 3, 2014

Simulated view of teleporting qubits between diamonds (Image: Hanson lab at TU Delft)

Simulated view of teleporting qubits between diamonds (Image: Hanson lab at TU Delft)

Image Gallery (6 images)

Researchers working at TU Delft's Kavli Institute of Nanoscience in the Netherlands claim to have successfully transferred data via teleportation. By exploiting the quantum phenomenon known as particle entanglement, the team says it transferred information across a 3 m (10 ft) distance, without the information actually traveling through the intervening space.

"Entanglement is arguably the strangest and most intriguing consequence of the laws of quantum mechanics," said the head of the research project, Professor Ronald Hanson. "When two particles become entangled, their identities merge: their collective state is precisely determined, but the individual identity of each of the particles has disappeared. The entangled particles behave as one, even when separated by a large distance."

As electrons in an atom exist in orbits around a nucleus – like the way that the Earth spins on its axis – electrons also have "spin." When two electrons are entangled (that is, when they interact physically) and are then forcibly separated, the spin information on each becomes opposite to the other; they are essentially turned into mirror images.

However – and this is the bit that Einstein found "creepy" in his rejection of the entanglement theory – when one of the entangled electrons has its spin direction changed by some means, the other electron immediately reverses its own spin direction. The distance in the Kavli Institute tests was 3 m (10 ft) but, theoretically, this distance could have been hundreds of light years.

An electron microscope image of one of the two devices, with a fictitious teleportation be...

In this case, the team teleported information contained in one quantum bit (or qubit, the quantum analog of a standard computer bit) to a completely separate quantum bit, using specially-designed computer chips. Each chip featured a synthetic diamond to contain the entangled electrons and several nitrogen atoms. Data was then encoded for transmission in the transmitting diamond’s nitrogen atom as alterations of the spin of the electron. The electron in the receiver diamond then showed the opposite of that manipulation at precisely the time that the transmission was "sent."

"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," explained Hanson. "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. 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."

One practical upshot of this work is the idea of a future quantum network for communication – a quantum internet – between ultra-fast quantum computers. This should also enable completely secure information transfer, as eavesdropping will be fundamentally impossible in such a network because quantum mechanics guarantees that measuring quantum data affects that data, so any changes will be immediately recognized.

In future experiments, the TU Delft team is planning on increasing the distance to more than 1,300 m (4,200 ft) with chips housed in several buildings across the university campus. The researchers hope to be the first to realize evidence to disprove Einstein’s rejection of the entanglement theory.

The team's research was published in the journal Science.

The video below shows members of the TU Delft team explaining the proposed experiment.

Source: TU Delft

About the Author
Colin Jeffrey Colin discovered technology at an early age, pulling apart clocks, radios, and the family TV. Despite his father's remonstrations that he never put anything back together, Colin went on to become an electronics engineer. Later he decided to get a degree in anthropology, and used that to do all manner of interesting things masquerading as work. Even later he took up sculpting, moved to the coast, and never learned to surf.   All articles by Colin Jeffrey
23 Comments

I don't know if teleportation of physical objects will ever be possible, but imagine how this might revolutionize interplanetary or interstellar communication. The fictional "ansible" used in novels by Ursula Leguin functioned according to the "Principle of Simultaneity," which as far as I can tell is not that different from quantum entanglement.

Chuck Anziulewicz
3rd June, 2014 @ 10:07 am PDT

Love the idea! Will this enable us to send information instantaneously across the universe, violating the relativistic information cone propagation theory of Einstein?

Hiel Gagarin
3rd June, 2014 @ 06:47 pm PDT

Not a first, see:Quantum "spooky action at a distance" travels at least 10,000 times faster than light

By Brian Dodson

March 10, 2013

http://www.gizmag.com/quantum-entanglement-speed-10000-faster-light/26587/

John S. Studer
3rd June, 2014 @ 07:05 pm PDT

@ John: Yes, "Quantum enetanglement" is a known phenomenon, but I think that if you read the article here you will see that it talks about is the world first at transmitting data this way.

Snert
3rd June, 2014 @ 11:49 pm PDT

@John: I think the "world first" here isn't the entanglement or even maintaining it at significant distances. I think it is maintianing it while transmitting meaningful quantities of data.

As you say entanglement has been done. Doing it at a distance has been done. I can not find the article but there was an experiment where some information was sent between two points that were 1000 meters apart, so the first here is the stability required to transmit more than a few bits of data.

VirtualGathis
4th June, 2014 @ 06:30 am PDT

Love the idea of being able to read tomorrow's news in the morning with my coffee..

More practically, this could mean instantaneous networking...

sgdeluxedoc
4th June, 2014 @ 08:36 am PDT

Beam me up, Scotty! Love it! Keep moving forward!!!! Vote Blue!

James K Young
4th June, 2014 @ 08:46 am PDT

OMg, and I don't mean the Higgs boson. Could the also be know as 'bi location'? I don't know of anything that can do that. Except... God? Surely not except He is an extra-dimensional being that is not bound by time and space. No. That just can't be. Then there is that strong nuclear force that keep the nucleus of past hydrogen atoms from flying apart. Isn't that force mediated by a particle called a 'glueon'? And, religiously doesn't the Holy Spirit mediate the love between the Father and the Son? Come on. Then again, back to the Higgs boson that imparts mass to matter in a Higgs field. New Testament describes Jesus appearing in the upper room after His resurrection. As He moved throughout it, He imparted Spirituality upon the Apostles - except Thomas who was not there at the time. No, all that is just, well, mere coincidence. But, Holy Scripture says we are made in God's image and that we have free will, and does the Universe also have free will that is called quantum happenstance in that it is non-deterministic; entropic?

Naw, just luck of the draw - nothing more or less.

James Oss
4th June, 2014 @ 09:05 am PDT

My untrained science fiction mind is trying to grasp this concept. If you think of the separated entangled pair of particles as a microphone, and a speaker to be used for instantaneous long distant communications, of course, it still takes time to DELIVER that 1/2 entangled particle (speaker) to the other side of the universe at the speed of light. So, instantaneous communication across the universe still depends upon the speed of light , and is significant in terms of human life span. So, we will not be dialing up the Crab Nebula soon. Yet, given the suggestion that there a universal "NOW" moment across the universe suggests that there CAN BE simultaneous events every/anywhere. This also suggests that distance as we perceive it is a obstacle only for Newtonian physics..

For short distances, like across the inside a computer, these distances become relatively insignificant at the speed of light. Thus, a computer programed to discover the theory of everything ( as most really are), loaded with all knowledge that we have discovered to this moment may actually disappear into another dimension the moment it is switched on. Is it impossible to predict the future given only the past? Or, will all possible interactions of circumstance and extrapolated mixtures of information evolve into a tangible theory of everything that will allow us to predict outcomes, and direct the future? I can't wait push the ON button and see. Or, perhaps we already have, yet keep coming back to relax and vacation in this dimension.

ODD Jim
4th June, 2014 @ 09:05 am PDT

Dr. Desbrandes and Daniel Van Gent were doing this years ago at much greater distances using entangled lithium fluoride crystals. They documented and patented their process for equantic communications (company name). You can see the results of their tests here:

http://www.e-quantic.com/

SuperLab.TV
4th June, 2014 @ 10:37 am PDT

All in All, it is still a shame that this was not shown to be possible while Arthur C. Clarke, Issac Asimov, and Gene Roddenbery were all still alive.

StWils
4th June, 2014 @ 11:31 am PDT

It is impossible to make heads or tails of this report. It is half joking, half semi-serious, and supplies only very sketchy information about what is going on.

What I have read over and over again suggests that the correlations produced during entanglement experiments are only detectible in retrospect, that is, by transporting information over conventional lines after the entanglement test has been completed.

I am not able to decipher what claims are being made here. I can't even figure that out.

ralph.dratman
4th June, 2014 @ 07:53 pm PDT

Quantum teleportation (QT) cannot transmit faster than the speed of light. Although quantum entanglement shows instantaneous correlation this can only be verified using normal communication. Similarly the mechanism for QT relies on normal communication. Turning physical objects into information, using QT to transmit that information, and then turning the information back into the object is still science fiction.

JSchlesinger
5th June, 2014 @ 03:20 am PDT

That's great for communication, and all, but I don't think it would apply toward transporting Physical objects. ...besides. If we could, how would Customs handle that?

Another question is why is no one in StarTrek having an existential crisis considering that Teleportation can only happen one of three ways. 1. A new body is created for them on the surface world, while their consciousness is beamed to that body, and when they beam back that body/person is destroyed. 2. Their body gets deconstructed and the information is transmitted to the surface where a new body is then reconstructed. So, it's like sending a fax, but a person, and rather than the original remaining It DIES. So, every time a person teleports, they literally die and are then resurrected. 3. Their atoms are shot down to the surface planet and reorganized (hopefully in the correct order and with 100% of the original atoms), however, in the process of doing this they are momentarily dead.

If I were on the Enterprise, I would take the shuttle every time.

Daniel Gregory
5th June, 2014 @ 07:23 am PDT

There are several misconceptions about quantum information that are creating a large amount of confusion in the comments. While I can't really address attempts to reconcile quantum physics with a literal interpenetration of the bible, I think I might be able to clear up some other confusion by pointing out that conventional means are not needed to verify quantum information if it is passed redundantly (there are several papers over the last decade talking about redundant quantum information transmission and possessing), and while traditional electronics are currently still needed to input and read quantum information, a large share of that is a matter of ironing out details and doing some engineering and not so much a matter of any fundamental principle. However, even if we assume that that we will never be able to get away from traditional electronic input and output from quantum computation and transmission, there are still several major advantages to using quantum systems for the heavy lifting: truly instantaneous data transfer (international signals traveling at a significant fraction of the speed of light still have a delay long enough to be recognized by humans, not to mention delays between earth and space craft). If a system has even a fairly large (say a few seconds) delay in translating data, that's still a huge advantage over the kinds of delays we see on extra planetary exploration (even if the system can only send and receive limited data, it could still be a huge advantage as an emergency countermeasure). Quantum computers also have some major advantages in the way data is processed, so if you can use a quantum computer to process something that might take hours of conventional computing in a few minutes or even seconds, then the need to use a few seconds to input data and read the result still allows for a huge gain in time efficiency.

As for what's interesting about this result, I would point to the fact that it looks like they were able to either keep the same electrons entangled over multiple permutations of data, or re-entangle them at a distance so that they didn't have to rebuild the system every time they planned to send another permutation. This is important to building robust quantum computers and is a pretty exciting result.

Phyzzi
5th June, 2014 @ 09:13 am PDT

with this technology we could control robots in outer space in real time ,and exploit it's resources .

frogola
5th June, 2014 @ 12:03 pm PDT

They used synthetic diamonds, I wonder what information will come out of an old diamond from an ancient temple.

Heck Aliens might have deposited crystals with trapped electrons that are entangled, waiting for us to figure out how to use it.

Maybe there are entangled electrons in the crystal skulls!!!

Jerry Delos Reyes
5th June, 2014 @ 03:25 pm PDT

If this setup can be used to send information, then it is effectively the ansible of SF. There are still some limitations as follows:

1. One of the electrons must be physically carried away to the receiving station in advance of the communication session, and without suffering decoherence in the process. That is, AFAIK, quite challenging; quantum superposition states are notably fragile.

2. If this is successful, then the electron pair can be used to transmit one bit of information instantaneously or nearly so (at vastly superluminal speed at any rate). To transmit more, you need more entangled electron pairs.

As you can see, this is not unlike the scheme used to communicate with messenger pigeons---the pigeons native to the destination must first be land-transported to the origin, and each pigeon can be used for transmission once. Except that here you are dealing with superluminal pigeons. :-)

This is pretty exciting if true, but alas, I am afraid that it doesn't quite work this way. You see, what the article says is that you can flip the first electron's spin, and when you check, the electrons still have opposite spins---the other electron flipped as well, at the same time. That's nice, but to actually send information you need to make the original electron point a specific way: say, up for 1 and down for 0. But the article does NOT say that you can do that. All it says is that you can _flip_ the original spin, _without knowing_ what it was to begin with*, and which way it will end up. That is _not_ the same as making it point up on demand (thus encoding a 1) and no information can actually be transferred.

_______________

*for the nitpickers out there, it had no specific direction to begin with---it was in a superposition of states. But you still cannot perform an operation on the superposed electron that will guarantee (or even make more probable) that it will point a specific way after you decohere it. Sorry, but still no cigar.

Freederick
5th June, 2014 @ 03:27 pm PDT

In a materialistic view of nature all phenomena and forces must derive from material particles. "without an actual physical particle" must be a string of particles like gravitons. Instantaneously teleportation of information through this string of gravitons could mean 10.000 times the speed of light. For a future space ship to be able to use this apparent spin velocity of gravitons constitutes one of three major problems for such a space transportation system. The second is to avoid collisions with nuclear particles during such a beyond the speed of light space flight and the third to prevent the binding of electrons with protons NOT to fall apart.

Theo Prinse
7th June, 2014 @ 08:34 am PDT

@StWils Ursula Le Guin is still around. I hope they consider putting one of those diamonds on Virgin Galactic. Zero latency satellite communication would be very nice.

John Banister
8th June, 2014 @ 12:57 am PDT

If distant particles respond to perturbation with no measurable time interval (apparent simultaneity) and time and space are part of the same stuff (space-time) then the fact that this is possible should mean that there must be some other layer or dimension of the universe whose properties are constrained by neither space nor time which, in turn, should mean that either space or time or both are an illusion since entangled particles seem not to care about the restrictions space and time seem to impose on boring macroscopic objects, anything with mass, and slow-poke photons.

Or not?

Erik Wilson
9th June, 2014 @ 02:06 pm PDT

I was wondering if anyone knows if the "classical bit" limitation on speed of data transmission has been overcome in this experiment. So far as I know, quantum-entangled data transmission isn't instantaneous yet because transmission of qubits so far depends on classical bit transfer which is speed-limited.

Vance Frickey
9th June, 2014 @ 05:12 pm PDT

We could be creating quantum devices transmitted from future constructed teleportation devices, from "a" future/dimension. Would we have a need to maintain multiple races and genders if lifeforms could be generated by transmitting vast information onto quantum particles/systems and housing that knowledge in a "physical" form able to live in multiple environments. Self healing, learning, and updating through teleportation.

Shawn Kelly
22nd October, 2014 @ 08:10 pm PDT
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