China Quantum Satellite Beams Entangled Photons From Space
A team from the University of Science and Technology of China in Shanghai has successfully beat the record for quantum entanglement by beaming the entangled photons from 300 miles above the Earth to separate locations 750 miles apart. The achievement could pave the way to possibilities of future quantum communication.
'Spooky Action At A Distance'
Albert Einstein himself called the concept of quantum entanglement a "spooky action at a distance" and for good reason as the phenomenon itself is still quite shrouded in mystery.
Quantum Entanglement is used to define the phenomenon wherein two or more separate objects are correlated and have to be described in relation to one another even though they are spatially separated. For instance, despite being impossible to predict, when one is described to be spin-down, the other will in turn be described as spin-up, and vice-versa.
In other words, anything performed on one of the objects may instantaneously affect the other objects entangled with it.
Though the current achievement was able to replicate the phenomenon, scientists and physicists still aren't exactly sure of how this phenomenon happens, or how one object knows what its partner or partners are doing.
Beating The Quantum Entanglement Record
The team from China did not just achieve an admirable triumph, but they were also able to beat the current record for quantum entanglement which was 86 miles.
Before Jian-Wei Pan, physicist at the University of Science and Technology of China involved in the project, and his colleagues broke the record, quantum communication on Earth faced the limitation of having to travel via fiber optics. This proved problematic as the fibers absorb light, therefore, weakening the connection as the photon travels.
What Jian-Wei Pan and his colleagues did was to produce the entangled photons and beam them down from the Micius satellite hovering 300 miles above the Earth and onto two separate ground-based labs in the mountains of Tibet without losing their linkage. Tests on the ground even proved that the entangled photons are still linked to one another.
The team's next goal is to do the test the other way around, that is, to send quantum particles from the ground and into the satellite, something that if achieved, could be a significant step toward quantum communication.
This feat records the very first case of generating entangled particles from space, and results of the achievement are published in the journal Science.
Implications On Quantum Communication
In its current standing, though internet connections are very useful, they are also still very vulnerable to cyberattacks. Developing quantum communication to create a "quantum internet" could lead to faster and more secure communication channels.