This year, the journey towards Start Trek-style teleportation systems took a giant leap forward. It seems Professor Nicolas Gisin’s team at the University of Geneva have achieved the seemingly impossible by teleporting a photon at the quantum level. To be clear and precise, it’s not yet at the Scotty-mandated levels of accuracy, but it’s getting there!
The team teleported the “quantum state of the photon” to a “crystal-encased proton state” twenty five kilometres from its starting point, a distance which represents the pinnacle of teleportation technology. Gisin’s and his colleagues utilised the same methods as those previously used in their world-record setting teleportation experiment. This time, the team added nearly twenty kilometres worth of distance to the teleportation process.
With the contributions of noted physicist Félix Bussières, the team has spent the better part of the decade experimenting with the transfer of data and particle matter. The stunning results, dating back to March of this year, were recently published in the September edition of the Nature Photonics Journal.
Since publication, the results have captured the imagination of the media and the public. It seems there’s a huge amount of interest in the idea of teleportation, perhaps due to the pervasive and extensive use of the technology in most of our favourite science-fiction books and movies. In a funny kind of way, it’s precisely those roots which may have inspired generations of scientists and researchers to tackle the important issue of transporting particles form one place to another, safely in tact.
In an attempt to explain their work in layman’s terms, the Geneva team summarised the experience as follows: “It is a bit like a game of billiards, with a third photon hitting the first which obliterates both of them. Scientists measure this collision. But the information contained in the third photon is not destroyed — on the contrary it finds its way to the crystal which also contains the second entangled photon.”
For all those readers still confused by the processes at play here, don’t worry. There’s plenty of time for us to catch up to the researchers, and it’ll likely be along time before we boldly go where no man has gone…