Last month, researchers showed that quantum communication between Earth and space is possible, and now they have used the tech to send a photon to space using quantum teleportation.
The experiment was conducted between Micius (the Chinese quantum satellite) and a ground station. The researchers were able to transfer the unknown quantum state from one photon here on Earth to another one in space.
However, this quantum teleportation to space is not like Star Trek. Reality is a lot less glamorous. To teleport all the properties of a particle – its quantum state – some drastic measures are required.
It’s not possible to know a quantum state perfectly and it’s not possible to copy it. However, if you’re willing to destroy the particle, you can easily transfer the quantum state on another particle. The new particle will, for all intents and purposes, be equivalent to the old particle.
Quantum teleportation is a crucial requirement to create a quantum Internet that allows quantum computers to communicate between themselves. The overuse of the word quantum in the previous sentence is not to make it sound complex. Quantum computers are computers that can use the laws of quantum mechanics to perform calculations faster than even the best supercomputer we can build – and at a fraction of the size.
There are still many issues to solve to make quantum computers viable, but this research goes a long way in establishing that long-distance quantum communication is possible. The satellite was 1,400 kilometers (870 miles) away from the ground station.