Instead of computer code, quantum communication uses photons, and this ensures that it can't be hacked
Scientists from NASA, Caltech and Fermilab for the first time have achieved long-distance 'quantum teleportation'-the instant transfer of quantum information units known as qubits.
NASA has succeeded in transmitting quantum information (qubits) over 27 miles at the speed of light through the use of quantum communication networks, reports the Daily Mail.
Although quantum teleportation can elicit ideas of being able to fly to a new location without a car, this achievement may potentially change the way machines interact and the ways in which we obtain information. Instead of computer code, quantum communication uses photons, and this ensures that it can't be hacked.
Information contained in qubits (the quantum equivalent of computer bits) is shuttled over long distances by entanglement in a quantum internet, or 'teleported'.
Entanglement is a process in which two particles are related in such a way that data shared with one is shared precisely at the same time with the other.
This implies that, even though they are separated by a great distance, the quantum state of each particle depends on the state of the other.
Quantum teleportation, therefore, is the transition from one place to the other of quantum states.
However, it is highly sensitive to environmental interference that can easily disrupt the quality or 'fidelity' of teleportation, so proving the theory in practice has been technologically challenging.
In their latest experiment, researchers from Caltech, NASA, and Fermilab (Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory) built a unique system between two labs separated by 27 miles (44km).
The system comprises three nodes which interact with one another to trigger a sequence of qubits, which pass a signal from one place to the other instantly.
The 'teleportation' is instant, occurring faster than the speed of light, and the researchers reported a fidelity of more than 90 percent, according to the new study, published in PRX Quantum.
Fidelity is used to measure how close the resulting qubit signal is to the original message that was sent.
'This high fidelity is important especially in the case of quantum networks designed to connect advanced quantum devices, including quantum sensors,' explains Professor Maria Spiropulu from Caltech.
The findings of the project are crucial to hopes of a future quantum internet as well as pushing the boundaries of what scientists known about the quantum realm.
Although the technology is yet to reach the point of being rolled out beyond sophisticated tests such as this, there are already plans for how policy makers will employ the technology.
For example, the US Department of Energy hopes to erect a quantum network between its laboratories across the states.
The power of a quantum computer running on quantum internet will likely exceed the speeds of the world's current most sophisticated supercomputers by around 100 trillion times.
'People on social media are asking if they should sign up for a quantum internet provider (jokingly of course),' Professor Spiropulu told Motherboard.
'We need (a lot) more R&D work.'