In the future, communication networks could be based on the bizarre world of quantum mechanics, and now we’re a step closer to that reality. Researchers in China have demonstrated a quantum network where entangled photons are beamed between drones and ground stations, successfully maintaining their quantum link over a distance of 1 km (0.6 miles).
Quantum entanglement involves pairs of particles becoming so intertwined that it becomes impossible to describe them individually. By measuring a property of one of them, such as its polarization, you’ll be able to tell the same property of its partner. Weirder still though, it appears to be the case that you’re actually changing the state of the partner instantly, no matter how much distance separates them.
That bizarre phenomenon can be taken advantage of to make fast and secure quantum communication networks. Entangled pairs of photons are generated, then one photon is passed to each user to allow them to communicate instantly by measuring their photons. Most experimental setups so far have tested this using fiber optic cables, but the photons can lose their entanglement over long distances as they bounce off the sides of the optical fibers.
Transmitting them through the air may boost the distances that quantum communications can work. In the past, that’s been done using satellites such as Micius, which a few years ago smashed records by transmitting quantum information between two ground stations 1,200 km (746 miles) apart.
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Source: Michael Irving/New Atlas
Photo credit: conceptw/Depositphotos
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