Many scientists believe that by tapping into the entangled potential of quantum mechanics, humans will usher in a new frontier of scientific and technological innovation. Chinese scientists are rumored to be working on a quantum Internet that will radically transform our online universe; quantum supercomputers are said to be the next major shift in computer technology. And just last month researchers announced a big development that suggests the long-fabled dream of quantum teleportation is closer to reality.
The discovery marks the first successful teleportation of a complex, 3-dimensional quantum state. Austrian and Chinese scientists working at the Austrian Academy of Sciences and the University of Vienna say their work represents a proof-of-concept that demonstrates the potential for scientists to use qutrits, as opposed to qubits. Qutrits mark the superpositional state of a 0, 1, or 2 and can carry a much larger information payload.
Scientists used carefully selected interference patterns, optical laser systems, beam splitters and barium borate crystals to create a tripartite photon path with an encoded quantum state. Their experiment shows for the first time that entangled qutrits, known colloquially as the Bell state, can transmit high-fidelity information. Such multi-dimensional quantum teleportation, they say, may help clear the way for both quantum Internet and quantum supercomputers.
“This result could help to connect quantum computers with information capacities beyond qubits,” says quantum physicist Anton Zeilinger.
The next step, researchers say, is to graduate to teleporting the quantum states of entire photons or atoms.
Physicist Chao-Yang Lu, who is the co-author of a new paper on the discovery described the future of their work:
“Science is step by step. First, you make the impossible thing possible. Then you work to make it more perfect.”