Friday, August 23, 2013 by: J. D. Heyes
Teleporting was popularized by the 1960s-era sci-fi hit that spawned a “new generation” of films stretching from the 1980s to present day. And while transporting human particles long distances through time and space is the creation of Hollywood, researchers in Zurich, Switzerland, have managed to “teleport” information from point A to point B in an electronic circuit.
Transporting information, not humans – yet
According to the research firm ETH:
Physicists at ETH Zurich have for the first time successfully teleported information in a so-called solid state system. The researchers did it by using a device similar to a conventional computer chip. The essential difference to a usual computer chip is that the information is not stored and processed based on the laws of classical physics, but on those of quantum physics. In a study, which is published in the current issue of the scientific journal Nature, the researchers were able to teleport information across a distance of about six millimeters, from one corner of a chip to the opposite one.
“Usually, in telecommunication information is transmitted by electromagnetic pulses. In mobile communications, for example, microwave pulses are used, while in fibre connections it is optical pulses,” said Andreas Wallraff, professor at the Department of Physics and head of the study.
By contrast, quantum teleporting doesn’t transport the information carrier itself, ETH says, but just the information. That’s possible because of the quantum mechanical properties of a system, “in particular the entanglement established between the sender and the receiver,” the company said in a press release.
For those of us who are not physicists, “entanglement” means there is a “magic” link between two points which works to exploit the laws of physics.
It’s kind of like ‘beaming’
Star Trek character Capt. James T. Kirk never really said, “Beam me up, Scotty,” during the original series, but the work at ETH sort of mimics that technology.
More from the company’s press release:
As a prerequisite for quantum teleportation, an entangled state is created between the sender and the receiver. After that the two parties can be physically separated from each other while preserving their shared entangled state. In the present experiment the physicists program a bit of quantum information into their device at the sender. Because the two parties are entangled, this information can be read out at the receiver.
“Quantum teleportation is comparable to beaming as shown in the science fiction series Star Trek,” Wallraff said. “The information does not travel from point A to point B. Instead, it appears at point B and disappears at point A, when read out at point B.”
As cool as Wallraff’s work seems, it’s not entirely groundbreaking. A year ago, Austrian scientists were able to teleport information more than 100 kilometers (about 62 miles), between the Canary Islands of La Palma and Tenerife. That experiment, and other similar ones, however, were “fundamentally different from the one performed at ETH Zurich, because they use visible light in an optical system for teleportation.”
At ETH, researchers managed to teleport information which exists within electronic circuits for the first time.
“This is interesting because such circuits are an important element for the construction of future quantum computers,” Wallraff said.
Next, researchers plan to boost the distance between electronic circuits.
“Teleportation is an important future technology in the field of quantum information processing,” Wallraff says, adding that it could soon be possible to transmit information from one place to another in some future quantum device or processor.