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A Chinese team has announced that they have successfully created the world’s first satellite-to-ground quantum network which has proved itself to be capable of recording the longest ever distance over which quantum entanglement can be measured.
In the 1990s, scientists first came across the mysterious and fascinating concept of quantum entanglement. They discovered that if two photons were placed in contact with one another then they would always remain inextricably linked and mirror one another’s behavior even if they were separated by vast amounts of difference.
Quantum entanglement is considered to be absolutely essential in the development of next-generation technologies which will allow for long-distance teleportation networks. However, work on the fascinating concept has stalled in recent years. Despite the fact that the two photons should remain linked to one another no matter how far they are separated in the theoretical sense, this has been very difficult to prove as the specimen photons are often lost in the atmosphere or within optical fibers when they have transported away from one another. According to the Chinese team, previous teleportation experiments have been limited in the past to a distance of only 100 kilometers.
The Chinese team managed to get around this problem by using a highly sensitive photon receptor referred to as Micius which has bene placed in orbit. The photons under examination are placed within a vacuum to ensure that they are not lost and then monitored using ground stations. This allowed the team to monitor the photons at a distance of up to 1400km to check whether entanglement was still occurring. The team experimented with millions of photons and found clear evidence of entanglement in 911 of the cases.
The success of these initial experiments by the Chinese team has laid the foundations for further work in this field in the future. “This work establishes the first ground-to-satellite uplink for faithful and ultra-long-distance quantum teleportation, an essential step toward the global-scale quantum internet, ” wrote the team in a report.
Before this incredible breakthrough, the Chinese were lagging behind European and American researchers in the field of quantum entanglement and teleportation. Now that they have made such an astonishing step forward it is almost certain that western scientists will be compelled to up their game to match their Chinese counterparts.