A team of researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences just reported a new success in the possible field of quantum encryption and quantum communications. According to a recently released paper, they managed to split and then transmit “entangled photons”. These communicated between ground stations separated by 745 miles.
Entangled photons belong to the field of quantum physics. This states that, as particles interact with one another in a certain way, they become “entangled”. Namely, they remain connected even when many miles apart. At the same time, an action performed on one of them also affects its connected pair.
Still, previous tests showed that entangled protons are notoriously hard to transmit over long distances. Observations showed that, even when transmitted via optic cables, they ultimately degrade after around 150 miles.
Quantum Communications One Step Closer?
However, this new study managed to significantly surpass this distance. The Chinese team of scientists managed to do so by sending the photons some 745 miles up in space.
Back in August 2016, China launched an orbiter called the Quantum Experiments at Space Scale. This was to test a long vehiculated but still untried theory, that of using satellite relays in transmitting entangled photons.
Now, the team behind the experiment just reported their first success by releasing a paper in the journal Science. The orbiter is reportedly specially equipped with a special laser-and-mirror system. It also has a crystal which can encode encryption keys and data onto photons, and the transmit them back to Earth.
The researchers stated that they have managed to successfully distribute pairs of entangled photons in between locations on Earth separated by 1,203 kilometers or 747.7 miles.
“For extending the distance of quantum communication networks, this is a milestone,” stated Eleni Diamanti who was not involved in the study but is the vice director of the Paris Center for Quantum Computing.
The study team considers that quantum cryptography could one day lead to more secure encryption systems. At the same time, it may contribute to bringing about the use of quantum communications. Reportedly, such a method would be ‘impossible’ to decode, intercept, or observe. Still, there are still many more steps before reaching such a stage.
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