Sunday, August 29, 2004

Have Qubits, Will Teleport

A team of scientists from the University of Science and Technology of China, the University of Innsbruck in Austria, and the University of Heidelberg in Germany have managed to "entangle" five photons, or qubits, for the first time. They also demonstrated what they call 'open-destination teleportation,' a way to teleport quantum information within and between computers.

To understand this, you must first untangle the technobabble. Entanglement allows particles to have a much closer relationship than is possible in classical physics. For example, two photons can be entangled such that if one is horizontally polarized, the other is always vertically polarized, and vice versa, no matter how far apart they are. For quantum teleportation, this means that information about the quantum state of a particle is instantaneously transferred, regardless of the distance involved.

Smaller numbers of photons have been entangled before, but five is the minimum number in quantum computation needed to do error correction in one pass.

Another team previously demonstrated teleporting atoms. But probably no "Beam me up, Scotty" for quite a while yet.


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