Did NASA achieve long-distance quantum teleportation? A viable quantum Internet, a network in which information stored in qubits is shared over long distances through entanglement, would usher in a new era of communication. It would transform the fields of data storage, precision detection, and computing.
At Fermi Lab, scientists, along with partners from five institutions, have taken a significant step in the direction of realizing a quantum Internet. In a paper published in PRX Quantum, the team presents for the first time a demonstration of long-distance, sustained teleportation of qubits made of photons (particles of light) with a fidelity greater than 90%. The qubits were teleported through a 44-kilometer-long fiber optic network using state-of-the-art single-photon detectors, as well as ready-to-use equipment.
“We are delighted with these results,” Fermilab scientist Panagiotis Spentzouris, director of Fermilab’s quantum science program and one of the paper’s co-authors, said in a statement.
“This is a key achievement on the path to building a technology that will redefine the way we conduct global communication.” The achievement comes just months after the US Department of Energy. unveiled its plan for a national quantum Internet at a press conference at the University of Chicago.
Novel Quantum States
Quantum teleportation is a “disembodied” transfer of quantum states from one place to another. Quantum teleportation of a qubit is achieved by quantum entanglement, in which two or more particles are inextricably linked to each other. If a pair of entangled particles is shared between two separate locations, regardless of the distance between them, the encoded information is teleported.
The joint team – researchers from Fermilab, AT&T, Caltech, Harvard University, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and the University of Calgary – successfully teleported qubits in two systems: Caltech Quantum Network and Fermilab Quantum Network. The systems were designed, built, commissioned, and implemented by Caltech’s Public-Private Research Program on Intelligent Quantum Technologies and Networks, or IN-Q-NET.
Both the Caltech and Fermilab networks, which feature near-autonomous data processing, compatible with both existing telecommunications infrastructure and emerging quantum processing and storage devices.
Metropolitan Quantum Network
Researchers are using them to improve fidelity and the entanglement distribution rate, with an emphasis on complex quantum communication protocols and fundamental science. “With this demonstration, we are beginning to lay the groundwork for the construction of a metropolitan quantum network in the Chicago area,” Spentzouris said.