The field of quantum cryptography, which seeks to transmit encrypted information using entangled quantum particles like photons, could help lay the groundwork for tomorrow's quantum networks but it faces a significant physical hurdle: entangled photons are insane hard to transmit long distances. The team has broken earlier record for distance of 86 miles, of sending information via entangled particles.
A group of scientists at the University of Science and Technology of China in Shanghai successfully integrated quantum entanglement into a rocket that was launched into space. Micius, which is now used for experimental purposes and built with some of the most delicate components, is now circling the earth and transmitting to bases located in two mountains, separated 1,200km between them.
While China is behind United States and Russian Federation in terms of space technology, the U.S. Defense Department has expressed concern that it will utilize its space technology to prevent rival countries from using space-based assets in the event of a crisis, as reported by Space Intel Report.
The researchers employed the quantum science experiment satellite nicknamed Micius, which launched from Jiuquan, China, in 2016 to orbit at an altitude of roughly 500 kilometers and at a speed of roughly 28,800 kilometers per hour, Pan says.
"I think we have started a worldwide quantum space race", says lead researcher Jian-Wei Pan, who is based in Hefei in China's Anhui Province.
Pan said, "This is the first baby step for quantum entanglement experiments going into space". This distance has remained a technical barrier because entangled photons are eventually absorbed by the medium they are moving through.
China isn't the first country to achieve quantum entanglement. If you envisage a quantum network, the question is how to cover large distances and that can not be done with glass fibres on the ground. It is of great significance for secure communications, quantum computation and simulation, and enhanced metrology.
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"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. "By developing an ultra-bright space-borne two-photon entanglement source and high-precision APT, the team established entanglement between two single photons separated by 1203 km, with an average two-photon count rate of 1.1Hz and state fidelity of 0.869±0.085".
An immediate application of distributed entangled photons, said Pan, is for entanglement-based quantum key distribution to establish secure keys for quantum communication.
In the future, researchers suggest, quantum entanglement will be an important resource for communicating across the globe.
One test would see whether changing gravitational fields affect entanglement.
The satellite utilized a peculiar phenomenon known as quantum entanglement to send the message.
"This is another very decisive step in proving the validity of quantum mechanics.over such a global scale". "It is hard to overestimate the impact of this result on the development of modern quantum physics".
Due to the fact that the entangled photons can not be amplified as classical signals, new methods must be developed to reduce the link attenuation in the satellite-to-ground entanglement distribution.
Until now, quantum entanglement had been demonstrated over distances of up to 100 kilometres using optical fibres.