n a new study in the journal Science, Jian-Wei Pan, a physicist at the University of Science and Technology of China reports that his team was able to entangle photons aboard a satellite 300 miles above Earth and then beam those particles to three ground stations across China—each separated by more than 700 miles triggering what might prove to be a global “quantum space race” by retaining their weird connection even after they’d been separated by a distance 10 times the previous record for “teleportation.”
Einstein was disturbed by idea of entanglement because it suggested that communication between particles could travel instantaneously, faster than the speed of light.
Though it sounds like a pointless exercise to make “twin” particles and send them careening away from each other, scientists are doing just that in order to pioneer what’s called “quantum communication,” an ultra-private way of sending messages. Because observation of one entangled particle immediately affects its partner, information sent via quantum methods can’t be hacked without it being very obvious to the other party involved.
Ground-based Tests confirmed that the particles sent from the Micius satellite were indeed still entangled. Pan wants to use the satellite for more complicated quantum communication; others working on this area of research hope that eventually, a “quantum internet” could allow for super-fast and super-secure communication around the world.
“This is the first time you have a quantum channel between a satellite and the ground that you can actually use,” said Norbert Lütkenhaus, a professor at the Institute for Quantum Computing at the University of Waterloo in Canada who was not involved in the new work. “People have been talking about doing it for many, many years, but these guys actually did it.”