Researchers have successfully teleported a photon, an elementary light particle, over a straight line 3.7 miles long using fiber optic cable infrastructure at The City of Calgary.

What began in 2014 as an Urban Alliance seed grant is now a record-holder for quantum teleportation. Led by Wolfgang Tittel, a Physics and Astronomy professor at the University of Calgary, the researchers documented their work in the journal Nature Photonics.

A Quantum Entanglement Experiment

The research was based on quantum entanglement, a property that refers to the association between two photons where the pair are entangled in such a way that they remain linked no matter how far they are separated.

For example, when the researchers sent a photon to City Hall, it stayed entangled with its photon pair that was left at the University of Calgary.

The researchers then generated the photon at the university in Calgary. From this third location, the photon traveled to City Hall to meet the photon sent there earlier as one half of the entangled pair.

What had occurred was that the photon's quantum state was instantaneously transferred onto the remaining photon part of the entangled pair, which was sitting 3.7 miles away at the University of Calgary.

The teleportation was made possible by access to proper technology, such as dark fiber. The infrastructure is named as such because it is made up of one optical cable without network equipment or electronics on the alignment that could impede quantum technology.

The City of Calgary was more than willing to let the researchers use its dark fiber infrastructure because it supports research that will promote quantum encryption and generate more opportunities for research and innovation, which will also stimulate economic growth in the city.

"In order to deliver next-generation services to Calgarians, The City has been increasing its fiber optic footprint, connecting all City buildings, facilities and assets," said Tyler Andruschak, The City of Calgary's Innovation and Collaboration project manager.

Tittel and his colleagues have the long-term goal of building quantum internet in the future and their teleportation demonstration is seen as one of the most striking manifestations of quantum mechanics.

The Quantum Communication Race

In August, China launched its first-ever quantum satellite from Inner Mongolia. It's a step toward the country's aim of pioneering outer space's first quantum communications network, which will be crucial in developing a communications system that cannot be hacked.

It's not clear how much Beijing's budget is for quantum research or the development of the satellite but it is estimated in 2015 that basic research funding amounts to $101 billion.

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