Quantum Internet Is One Step Closer

Quantum satellite shatters entanglement record

It may have once been regarded as that "freaky kid" of the physics world, but quantum entanglement has literally come a long way from the days when Einstein laughed it off as "spooky action at a distance".

Preliminary research included ground-based studies of bi-directional entangled photon pair distribution through a two-link terrestrial free-space channel, over 600m, 13km, and 102km, with an ~80dB effective channel loss.

"We have already achieved a two-photon entanglement distribution efficiency a trillion times more efficient than using the best telecommunication fibers", Pan said.

Until now, quantum entanglement had been demonstrated over distances of up to 100 kilometres using optical fibres. Not only were the particles entangled in space (scientists have never done this before), but they retained their weird connection even after they'd been separated by a distance 10 times the previous record for what's called "quantum teleportation". Entangled photons don't need wires or cables to link them, but on Earth it is necessary to use a fiber optic cable to transmit one of the particles to its desired location.

Splitting a single photon into two linked ones, called entanglement distribution, could help create a secure internet connection. "Who knows, maybe there'll be a space entanglement race?".

There are a couple of ways physicists can tackle this problem.

One way to overcome this issue is to break the line of transmission into smaller segments and use so-called quantum repeaters to repeatedly swap, purify and store quantum information along the optical fiber, while another approach is to make use of satellite-based technologies.

This is all well and good, but getting all of these elements to work together seamlessly is still a hard task when information needs to be stored for long periods and retrieved quickly.

"What's extra cool about this work, is that the particular way they can distribute the key is based on a source of quantum entanglement that's [generated] in space - in the satellite", said Dr Buchler. This test, set in motion when #China launched a specialized quantum satellite dubbed Micius previous year, was able to distribute the entanglement photons across a distance of more than 1,200 km.

As per Science Daily, each station was about 1200 km apart and within 500 to 2000 km away from the orbiting satellite.

Central to QUESS's experiments is a laser beam mounted on the satellite. One of these beams was then used to transmit the entangled particles, while the other beam functioned as a photon receiver. It relies on "entangled photons": particles of light, which are created simultaneously and have identical properties no matter how far apart they are.

"The result again confirms the nonlocal feature of entanglement and excludes the models of reality that rest on the notions of locality and realism", the team writes in their paper.

"[The satellite] sends one half of the pair to one base station on Earth and the other half of the pair to a different base station on Earth", explained Dr Buchler.

Now Pan and his colleagues have set a new record for entanglement by using a satellite to connect sites on Earth separated by up to 1,203 kilometers.

"This [experiment] has extended those boundaries by an order of magnitude".

"The experiment shows that long-range quantum communication is indeed technologically feasible and holds out the promise of the construction of long-range quantum communication networks in the near future", Lloyd told Xinhua.

Let's hope it won't be too long before someone smashes this record.

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