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Teleporting a photon leads researchers to quantum security

Sharon Gaudin | Sept. 22, 2016
Canadian researchers go the distance - 3.5 miles, in this case

The Geneva, Switzerland-based company ID Quantique offers quantum-safe crypto technology.

And a similar experiment about quantum encryption was recently conducted in China.

Today, though, the technology is restricted in terms of the distance that the quantum-secured information can be sent -- only about 62 miles.

"We could send secret keys inside the city but not much further," explained Tittel. "Not across Canada, for instance, and not between big cities."

In the future, no distance would be too far for quantum teleportation, he added.

Tittel's experiment was based on the theory of the entanglement property of quantum mechanics, which is a highly complex and mysterious branch of physics.

With entanglement, two objects, even if they are not physically connected or even close to each other, communicate and interact with each other.

"Being entangled means that the two photons that form an entangled pair have properties that are linked regardless of how far the two are separated," said Tittel, in the written statement. "When one of the photons was sent over to City Hall, it remained entangled with the photon that stayed at the University of Calgary."

Tittel explained that one other technology that needs to be advanced to create a true quantum network is quantum memory for light, which is much like a hard disk for quantum states.

Right now they exist only in laboratories.

"Our goal or next steps would be to improve quantum memory, quantum teleportation and then build a quantum network across Calgary and then across Edmonton and then across Alberta," said Tittel. "We’ll have this way of communicating before we have readily available quantum computers that can easily break encryption."

So what about teleporting humans, instead of just photons? Are we close to the image we have in our heads from Star Trek?

The short answer, according to Tittel, is no.

 

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