Chinese Scientists Successfully Teleport a Photon to Space

Teleportation has always been an interesting and controversial topic at the same time. Being able to transport an item -or a human- from point A to B instantly would be amazing. Chinese scientists have successfully teleported a photon from Earth to a satellite over 300 miles away. It may not be the “trick” most people expected, but it shows teleportation is certainly possible.

Photon Gets Teleported to Space

It may not sound like much when scientists boast about having teleported a single photon from one place to another. We cannot distinguish individual photons from the their collective existence -light-. However, this is a major breakthrough courtesy of Chinese scientists and is worth every ounce of your attention.

Chinese researchers claim they will use quantum physics to make teleportation possible in the future. Similar claims date back to the end of the 20th century, a time during which that concept sounded even more ludicrous than it does today. However, less than 25 years later, we now have proof this is possible. The world’s first quantum teleportation took place just last year, indicating there is some room for further improvements.

The satellite receiving this photon goes by the name of Micius. It is equipped with a photoreceiver which detected the quantum state of a single photon fired from the surface of the Earth. When the satellite was launched, teleportation was one of its future use cases. In fact, this successful 300-mile teleportation of a single photon is just the first of many more tests to come, all of which will focus on the concept of teleportation.

Teleporting even a single photon over such a large distance is nothing to scoff at. It is not as simple as making a long-distance phone call since there are no “receivers’ to bounce the quantum state toward the satellite. All previous teleportation attempts were limited to a maximum distance of around 60 miles, otherwise the photon would get lost in the “noise” generated by free-space channels.

It is important to put this concept of quantum teleportation in perspective. Quantum teleportation allows an existing photon to form at a different point in space. For a brief moment, both of these objects share the same existence. Once this “link” is established, information from the Earthbound photon is downloaded by the satellite photon, after which the latter takes on the identity of the first.

This experiment is impressive, but the technology used to achieve this goal still has its limitations. Transporting anything larger than a photon will be challenging. We will not see a banana getting teleported anytime soon, let alone an animal or human. The distance over which something can be transported is hard to quantify right now, but there are no theoretical limits. This test paves the way for more interesting developments in the world of quantum teleportation.