Quantum Teleportation Between Canary Islands Breaks Chinese Record

August 13, 2012



A research team seems to have broken the most recent record of distance for quantum teleportation, posted by a Chinese research group. This new record is about the distance between New York City and Philadelphia and concerns the quantum state of a single photon. While it also might sound that the transfer happens instantaneously, the steps required to read out the teleported quantum state ensure that it doesn’t travel faster than the speed of light, which would break causality.

Quantum teleportation uses the phenomenon of quantum entanglement, which links quantum particles. Although this link is fragile and invisible, two entangled photons have correlated opposite polarization states. Quantum mechanics states that each photon’s polarization remains undecided until one of them is measured. At that time, the polarization snaps into place, even if many kilometers separate the entangled pair.


It allows a detour to the physics theorem of no-cloning. That theorem states that a quantum object cannot be perfectly copied. This teleportation doesn’t create a copy, it simply shifts the quantum information from one place to another, destroying the original in the process.

This can mean that information can be sent in this fashion and this information could be the gateway to more secure forms of communications between stations. A new European and Canadian research group claims to have transported quantum information from one of the Canary Islands to another, which are 143 kilometers apart. The paper is currently on arXiv.org, but comes from a reputable research group. It will no doubt be published after it’s been peer-reviewed.

[via Nature]

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3 Responses to “Quantum Teleportation Between Canary Islands Breaks Chinese Record”

  1. Peter Says:

    So distance is involved? It doesn’t mean that what happens in one part of the universe will also happen instantly in another region?


    • Fill Says:

      What happens instantly (or at least much faster than the speed of light) is the collapse of the waveform where two entangled particles have agreed to have a correlating property (like polarization in a particular direction). This is what Einstein called ‘spooky action at a distance’ and he didn’t like it. Einstein thought what was more likely was the ‘entangled’ particles simply had the same properties upon creation. It turned out he was wrong after experimental testing (see Alain Aspect). Ironically, he predicted entanglement and used it as an argument that quantum mechanics must be wrong because it just seemed too weird. In any case, the spooky action at a distance doesn’t break causality because even though the entangled particles have agreed to have some correlating property, the value/measurement of that property is still random, so entanglement can’t be used to, say, transfer any useful information faster than light from one place to another. (Sorry for the long winded response.)


  2. Markm Says:

    This is amazing.
    One day…!


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