Teleportation is normally restricted to the pages of science fiction novels but a group of scientists from Japan and Australia have come together to achieve a breakthrough in quantum communications and computing using a “teleporter and a paradoxical cat.”
Teleportation has long been something we have associated with Star Trek films and while the type of teleportation scientists are working on focuses on the transfer of information, until now they were having considerable difficulty in maintaining full transmission integrity. The latest test results however have over come that problem. Professor Elanor Huntington, from the School of Engineering and Information Technology at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) said: “One of the limitations of high-speed quantum communication at present is that some detail is lost during the teleportation process. It’s the Star Trek equivalent of beaming the crew down to a planet and having their organs disappear or materialise in the wrong place. We’re talking about information but the principle is the same – it allows us to guarantee the integrity of transmission.”
The breakthrough is the first-ever transfer, or teleportation, of a particular complex set of quantum information from one point to another, opening the way for high-speed, high-fidelity transmission of large volumes of information, such as quantum encryption keys, via quantum communications networks. The cat the researchers at UNSW spoke of was not an actual tabby but rather "wave packets" of light representing the famous "thought experiment" known as Schrodinger’s Cat. The experiments were conducted on a machine known as "the teleporter" (see above) in the laboratory of Professor Akira Furusawa in the Department of Applied Physics in the University of Tokyo.
The breakthrough allows for the transfer of information carried by light at very high speeds and marks an important step towards quantum computing becoming a reality. "If we can do this, we can do just about any form of communication needed for any quantum technology," Huntington said.