While theoretical proposals for a quantum internet already exist, the problem for scientists is that there is still debate over which technology provides the most efficient and reliable teleportation system. (Credit: JD Hancock/Flickr)

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Why ‘teleportation’ is no longer science fiction

For many people the word “teleportation” conjures up “Beam me up, Scotty” images from Star Trek. But in the last two decades, quantum teleportation—transferring the quantum structure of an object from one place to another without physical transmission—has moved from the realms of science fiction to tangible reality.

Quantum teleportation is an important building block for quantum computing, quantum communication, and quantum network and, eventually, a quantum internet. While theoretical proposals for a quantum internet already exist, the problem for scientists is that there is still debate over which technology provides the most efficient and reliable teleportation system.

[Quantum info ‘beamed up’ via donut teleportation]

In a new paper, published in Nature Photonics, scientists reviewed the theoretical ideas around quantum teleportation focusing on the main experimental approaches and their associated advantages and disadvantages.

None of the technologies alone provide a perfect solution—the scientists say a hybridization of the various protocols and underlying structures offer the most fruitful approach.

For instance, systems using photonic qubits work over distances up to 143 kilometers, but they are probabilistic in that only 50 percent of the information can be transported. To resolve this, such photon systems may be used in conjunction with continuous variable systems, which are 100 percent effective but currently limited to short distances.

Most importantly, teleportation-based optical communication needs an interface with suitable matter-based quantum memories where quantum information can be stored and further processed.

[Quantum system teleports an atom]

“We don’t have an ideal or universal technology for quantum teleportation,” says Stefano Pirandola of the computer science department at the University of York. “The field has developed a lot but we seem to need to rely on a hybrid approach to get the best from each available technology.

“The use of quantum teleportation as a building block for a quantum network depends on its integration with quantum memories. The development of good quantum memories would allow us to build quantum repeaters, therefore extending the range of teleportation. They would also give us the ability to store and process the transmitted quantum information at local quantum computers.

“This could ultimately form the backbone of a quantum internet. The revised hybrid architecture will likely rely on teleportation-based long-distance quantum optical communication, interfaced with solid state devices for quantum information processing.”

Researchers from the University of Toronto, the Freie Universität Berlin, and the University of Tokyo coauthored the study.

Source: University of York

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