In a major breakthrough, a joint team of researchers from Caltech, the Department of Energy’s Fermilab, AT&T, Harvard University, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab, and the University of Calgary announced that they managed to teleport qubits of photons across approximately 27 miles (43.4523 kilometers) of fiber-optic cable, per Fermilab.
Similar projects had been done in the past; however, this one distinguishes itself from the others due to it being the first to beam quantum information across such a great distance.
The experiment, done by using "off-the-shelf" equipment that is compatible with both existing telecommunications infrastructure and emerging quantum technologies, might "provide a realistic foundation for a high-fidelity quantum internet with practical devices," the researchers told Motherboard.
The study was published in the journal PRX Quantum.
Revolutionizing data storage and computing
Scientists were able to send qubits, which work by replacing traditional bits with quantum bits, through 27 miles (43.4523 kilometers) of fiber-optic cable with a network built with off-the-shelf equipment. Moreover, the researchers were able to do the experiment across two separate networks and with a fidelity greater than 90 percent.
The scientists are claiming that this achievement will usher in a new era of communication, per Independent. Once the achievement is used to develop a quantum internet service, it could revolutionize data storage and computing.
According to the researchers, the team had been working persistently and "keeping their heads down in the past few years."
Panagiotis Spentzouris, head of the Quantum Science Program at Fermilab, wrote in an email to Motherboard, "We wanted to push the envelope for this type of research and take important steps on a path to realize both real-life applications for quantum communications and networks and test fundamental physics ideas."
"So, when we finally did it, the team was elated, very proud for achieving these high-quality, record-breaking results," he explained further. "And we are very excited that we can move to the next phase, utilizing the know-how and the technologies from this work towards the deployment of quantum networks."
Does this mean that you should sign up for a quantum internet provider though? Not really. In an answer to jokingly asked questions on social media, Maria Spiropulu, Shang-Yi Ch’en professor of physics at Caltech, said, "We need (a lot) more R&D work."