Physicists teleport quantum bits over long distance

Swiss researchers successfully teleport photons a record two kilometres.

Swiss researchers say they have successfully caused a quantum particle to disappear and reappear two kilometres away without it ever existing in between.

The teleportation feat sounds magical and has set a long-distance record.

Teleporting an object involves gathering detailed information about its subatomic particles and transmitting this information to recreate the object perfectly. The original is dissolved in the process.

University of Geneva physicist Nicolas Gisin and his colleagues teleported a photon, or particle of light, 55 metres.

Gisin likens the process to sending a fax, except the object never exists anywhere between the source and the receiver.

Unfortunately for anyone hoping for Scotty to beam them up like on Star Trek, so far teleportation only works on a quantum scale, not for everyday life.

For now, physicists can't even teleport atoms, never mind molecules.

"I think one has to realize that a molecule for us physicists is already a very complicated object," Gisin told CBC Radio's As It Happens.

For instance, a pen may seem like a simple object. "From a physicist's point of view, there are so many atoms in a pen that it is already beyond any foreseeable technology to teleport a pen," he added.

Although the technology won't help you beat traffic, it may come in handy as a defence against spies.

If information were encrypted using quantum cryptography, then sending information would be completely secure.

A spy couldn't get hold of data while it is being sent, because it wouldn't exist in between the sender and receiver, Gisin said.

The study appeared in the Jan. 30 issue of the journal Nature.