First object teleported into space; Chinese scientists break records

13 Jul 2017 | By Shikha Chaudhry
The science of teleportation!

Teleportation seemed a science fiction a few decades ago.

Until the 1990s, experts only speculated that teleportation could be possible by applying quantum physics, but now it is a reality!

Taking the process of quantum teleportation a step ahead, scientists in China have teleported a photon to a satellite in Earth's orbit, over 500km away.

Know more about the major breakthrough!

In context: The science of teleportation!

13 Jul 2017First object teleported into space; Chinese scientists break records

DetailsSatellite can detect quantum states of single photons

The scientists teleported a photon from Gobi Desert to 'Micius' satellite, named after an ancient Chinese philosopher and scientist who died in 391 BC.

Micius, launched last year into a Sun-synchronous orbit, is a highly sensitive photon receiver.

The researchers built the first satellite-to-ground quantum network to teleport the photon.

They also set a new record for the longest distance in quantum teleportation.

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China dominating the teleportation field

ChinaChina dominating the teleportation field

Previous experiments in the teleportation field were conducted over a distance of 100km; the distance was limited due to loss of photons in optical fibers or the atmosphere.

The current experiment shows China is leading in the field, which was once dominated by US and Europe.

Long-distance quantum teleportation is fundamental to several procedures, including distributed quantum computation and large-scale quantum networks.

Quantum PhysicsQuantum transportation is fascinating in its own way

Quantum transportation is quite complicated and different from the teleportation in fiction.

It involves information transmission between a pair of entangled photons, without any physical connection.

Simply put, the information from the first photon is downloaded and transferred over a quantum network (entanglement) to another photon in a different place.

Thus, the second photon becomes identical to the first.

What are entangled photons?

Photons created in pairs/groups through quantum entanglement are called entangled photons. Entangled photons are generated at the same point and instant in space so, they react as one entity; but aren't connected physically. The shared existence between the photons continues, regardless of the distance.

ExperimentHow was the experiment performed?

The distance between Earth and Micius varies between 500km (overhead) and 1,400km (near horizon).

Scientists created 4,000 pairs of entangled photons per second.

Using the quantum network, one photon in each pair was sent to Micius everyday when it was overhead.

To confirm teleportation, the scientists measured the numbers of photons on the ground and in orbit and found positive results in 911 cases.

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The Chinese team on its experiment

The Chinese researchers said, "We report the first quantum teleportation of independent single-photon qubits (quantum bits) from a ground observatory to a low Earth orbit satellite - through an up-link channel - with a distance up to 1400 km."