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Beam Me Up: Scientists Find a Way to Teleport Data

May 30, 2014 11:08 AM EDT
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TU Delft lab
Teleporting people through space, like in the geek series "Star Trek," is a physical impossibility, but teleporting data is another matter. Scientists from the Netherlands showed for the first time that it's possible to reliably teleport information between two quantum bits separated by three meters (10 feet).
(Photo : Ronald Hanson/TU Delft)

Teleporting people through space, like in the geek series "Star Trek," is a physical impossibility, but teleporting data is another matter. Scientists from the Netherlands showed for the first time that it's possible to reliably teleport information between two quantum bits separated by three meters (10 feet).

As described in the journal Science, this phenomenon could transport us to the next frontier of Star Trek-style teleportation.

"If you believe we are nothing more than a collection of atoms strung together in a particular way, then in principle it should be possible to teleport ourselves from one place to another," Professor Ronald Hanson told Mirror Online, though he added, "If it ever does happen it will be far in the future."

Opposed to transporting people, quantum teleportation involves transferring the information contained in a quantum bit - the equivalent of a classical bit, or the basic units of information in computing - from one place to another without moving the physical matter to which the information is attached, The New York Times reported.

A team from the Kavli Institute of Nanoscience at the Delft University of Technology achieved this type of teleportation using a phenomenon called entanglement, a notion that Albert Einstein disagreed with and described as "spooky action at a distance."

"Entanglement is arguably the strangest and most intriguing consequence of the laws of quantum mechanics," Hanson argued in a statement.

During entanglement, particles' identities merge to become one, with one instantly influencing the other no matter how far apart they are.

"The distance in our tests was three meters, but in theory the particles could be on either side of the universe," he said.

Hanson's research group is the first to have succeeded in teleporting information between qubits, or quantum bits, in different computer chips. Moreover, it is 100 percent guaranteed to work and has the potential of being 100 percent accurate, he added.

They did so by producing qubits using electrons trapped in diamonds at extremely low temperatures. According to Hanson, the diamonds effectively create "miniprisons" in which the electrons were held.

Hanson and company are now seeking to repeat their experiment over the distance of more than a kilometer. If repeatedly successful, it could definitively disprove Einstein's rejection of entanglement.

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