Scientists achieve reliable quantum teleportation for first time

Einstein is wrong? That's the potential outcome of a quantum mechanics study as scientists race to disprove his views on entanglement.

A mass of optic equipment rigged by the research team at Delft to guide photos between the entangled particles. Hanson lab / Delft University of Technology

Albert Einstein once told a friend that quantum mechanics doesn't hold water in his scientific world view because "physics should represent a reality in time and space, free from spooky actions at a distance." That spooky action at a distance is entanglement, a quantum phenomenon in which two particles, separated by any amount of distance, can instantaneously affect one another as if part of a unified system.

Now, scientists have successfully hijacked that quantum weirdness -- doing so reliably for the first time -- to produce what many sci-fi fans have long dreamt up: teleportation. No, not beaming humans aboard the USS Enterprise, but the teleportation of data.

Physicists at the Kavli Institute of Nanoscience, part of the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, report that they sent quantum data concerning the spin state of an electron to another electron about 10 feet away. Quantum teleportation has been recorded in the past, but the results in this study have an unprecedented replication rate of 100 percent at the current distance, the team said.

Thanks to the strange properties of entanglement, this allows for that data -- only quantum data, not classical information like messages or even simple bits -- to be teleported seemingly faster than the speed of light. The news was reported first by The New York Times on Thursday, following the publication of a paper in the journal Science.

Proving Einstein wrong about the purview and completeness of quantum mechanics is not just an academic boasting contest. Proving the existence of entanglement and teleportation -- and getting experiments to work efficiently, in larger systems and at greater distances -- holds the key to translating quantum mechanics to practical applications, like quantum computing. For instance, quantum computers could utilize that speed to unlock a whole new generation of unprecedented computing power.

Quantum teleportation is not teleportation in the sense one might think. It involves achieving a certain set of parameters that then allow properties of one quantum system to get tangled up with another so that observations are reflected simultaneously, thereby "teleporting" the information from one place to another.

To do this, researchers at Delft first had to create qubits out of classical bits, in this case electrons trapped in diamonds at extremely low temperatures that allow their quantum properties, like spin, to be observed.

A qubit is a unit of quantum data that can hold multiple values simultaneously thanks to an equally integral quantum phenomenon called superposition, a term fans of the field will accurately associate with the Schrödinger equation, as well as Heisenberg's uncertainty principle that says something exists in all possible states until it is observed. It's the same way quantum computing may one day surpass the speeds of classical computing by allowing calculations to spread bit values between 0, 1 or any probabilistic value between the two numbers -- in other words, a superposition of both figures.

With quibits separated by a distance of three meters, the researchers were able to observe and record the spin of one electron and see that reflected in the other qubit instantly. It's an admittedly wonky conception of data teleportation that requires a little head scratching before it begins to clear up.

Still, its effects could be far reaching. The researchers are attempting to increase that distance to more than a kilometer, which would be ample leeway to test whether or not entanglement was a consistent phenomenon and that the information was traveling faster than the speed of light. Such experiments would more definitively knock down Einstein's disqualification of entanglement due to its violation of classical mechanics.

"There is a big race going on between five or six groups to prove Einstein wrong," Ronald Hanson, a physicist leading the research at Delft, told The New York Times. "There is one very big fish."

Update at 10:08 p.m. PT: Added photos from Delft University and the research team's explanatory YouTube video.

About the author

Nick Statt is a staff writer for CNET. He previously wrote for ReadWrite and was a news associate at the social magazine app Flipboard. He spends a questionable amount of his free time contemplating his relationship with video games while continuously exploring the convergence of tech, science and pop culture.

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Aren't the terms "teleporting" and "traveling faster than the speed of light" improper and misleading.

My understanding of entanglement is that there is no transporting of anything.  The entangled particles are a single entity separated by space.  It is only our perspective - seeing them as two separate particles - that makes it look like something is "traveling" between them.

Um, firstly no data transmission is taking place - not useably - merely correlation is occuring.

And if this is just EPR they're talking about, entanglement.... it's already been done up to a distance of 150 km by using satellites a few years ago.

So.. I'm confused what this article is actually About?

@ploguser The satellite experiments were not reliable or consistent--sometimes they worked, sometimes they didn't, with no indication of why things failed. This (provided the article is accurate) has a solid and consistent success rate.

Faster-than-light Internet could definitely be a very viable future application of this... Oh, yeah, and quantum logic gates, and thus, faster-than-light CPUs.

Now the only component needed before the possibility of a quantum computer could become reality: QuRAM... and, by extension, an SSD made out of a formatted form of it, to make sure processed qubits are also stored as qubits.

    Without the Data channel, This is still great news in it's own right.  Superposition with data even better but be true to the data.  The spin is really the best clock/timer.    New GPS with accuracy of +/- from sets of superposition diamonds in the sky.  The data lines are the hard part.  So they time out the same, the only data could be Irrational rationalized buy Quanta. So the irrational is rationalized.  True proportional math can be used , with larger accuracy.  The memresitor circuit could be the state between 0 and 1, and eventually 0-9 states between etc..I believe there are different Data sets that will work.

Electron spin in 3/d orbit  and manipulating spin accurately,  I give much respect if it is true. 

@Matthew_Q  Get to the point! The day they can transmit the signal using conventional methods through the Earth's core directly straight to the other end, I call that teleportation no matter what they say it is and nobody can tell me otherwise.... and no like the article states it isn't really teleportation just the transmission of a signal as a body was really not transported to the other end just data.

Why would the universe alter itself in any way if a human observed or measured it's particles? Seems a bit odd that our eyes, tools, or perception should matter in the grand scale of things.

@JackSkellingt0n  They did specify that the data is quantum in nature. So in other words, that the "particle" became colder.... or something along the lines that the "particle" expanded as it should ... or various similar factors especially that the "particle" unexpectedly seems (or at least appeared) to have caught a myriad of light from nowhere as if light was being bent or refracted in a cordial/symphonic form that the Universe is known to do just as it should... that the scientists wondered if it was simply reacting to another particle from far away by shining as if it was activated. I think....

So, does this allow them to manipulate one of the qubits and have that new state reflected in the other qubit, or does it only allow them to measure the state of qubit and find that the state of the other qubit is determined at the same time? Once the state of the near qubit is determined once, can it be changed and if so is that new state reflected in the other qubit?

Yes, this is a poorly researched article for several other reasons. Here is another example of its inaccuracies.  "Heisenberg's uncertainty principal" <sic>?  And to make matters worse, he uses the word "accurately"?  Why are we focused only on the spelling, when Heisenberg's uncertainty principle has nothing to do with this?  Heisenberg describes that the more we know about a particle's position, the less we know about its momentum, and vice versa.  For this particular issue in quantum mechanics, we should be reading about the work of Erwin Schroedinger instead. Nick Statt and the editing and fact checking departments  - wow!

This is a ridiculous article. As a physicist, it should be noted that entanglement does not work as described. It is instantaneous but is completely random. That is its quantum nature. It must be decoded by a separate data stream that travels no faster than light. It should be noted that Einstein is one of the original creators of quantum mechanics and the originator of the concept of entanglement. Yes, he rejected his creation, but was key to it. Perhaps he will be proven wrong but I would not bet a lot of money on it. Prove it in extensive peer review. That so far has not happened (latest the Italian team proven wrong about neutrino transmission faster than light).

@jjhobbs Well I am no physicist, but your point really makes a lot of sense.   Essentially you are saying that Einstein believed in Quantum Mechanics.  And Einstein did not believe in Quantum Mechanics.  And Einstein's belief in Quantum mechanics is a superposition of these viewpoints as described by the observer.

Yeah, yeah, its really starting to make sense....but, I should point out, it's really important we define which Einstein we are talking about.  Our Einstein or another of the infinite Einstein's in the multiverse?

Oh our Einstein....yeah, he rejected it.


Look this is not easy stuff, it is hard for everyone, also for Einstein, so there is no need to be sarcastic. Einstein was one of the fathers of quantum mechanics but he didn't believe in instant communication because it seems to contradict his theory of relativity that states that communication can't be faster than the speed of light. Combining relativity and quantum mechanics is hard 'work'.  

@roblearns @jjhobbs You can very easily do the math for a problem and come up with an answer but firmly believe that, based on your previous work, you messed something up or didn't include some bit of info you don't have access to yet so you got the wrong answer.  From my understanding of things, that's what happened.  Einstein came up with it, yes, but effectively believed that it was incorrect for one reason or another and that more information would prove his disbelief.

This would more likely see use in communications far before computers. This has the potential provide instant point to point communications over great distances with no equipment to set up in between. If this concept seems familiar to you it may be because quantum pairs are how instantaneous long distance communication is achieved in Mass Effect. The big problem with this method though is that each point would have one of the pair, restricting communication to only between two points. For instance you can't setup the pairs in New York and London and expect to communicate with Beijing, you would have to create another pair.

@eAbyss all every machine would require is 3 pairs and the information could bounce around until it hits the right location since it is instantaneous you would not notice any delay even if it was bouncing through 100 million pairs 

Well, it's not teleportation; it's illusion--it's a controlled (aka biased) experiment. It's simply that two "tangled" particles will behave the same regardless of where they are in relation to each other ("space" is irrelevant [and "time" isn't real anyway]). Meh.

It isn't FTL commo or teleportation per se, but the applicability is there..  The entangled particles are in the same space-time.  It only LOOKS like they're separated. It's the application of the twin experiment (but both twins leave), or  another dimension to the analogy of two people in a train car going directly away from an observer.  If one passenger throws a ball to the other, the observer sees the combined speed of the ball plus the speed of the train.  To the passengers they only perceive the speed of the ball between them.  Direction is irrelevant when two particles travel at c, because space warps around them.

Good, let's build on this. We need quantum computing badly. We need Artificial Intelligence to make global decisions if humanity is to survive.  Global Warming is bad enough per se but what we humans will do when resources get tight and economies stall is bad, bad, bad. 

Will I be able to play Wow with no lag? That's what I want to know...... hahahah jk

@SamsRoid  No but wowzers maybe they will allow you to have a personal portable teleportation pod you can place in your character's home. You know, like a spire within your home. Just make sure not to teleport to my teleport when I'm standing on it.

this isn't teleporting, 

but I guess you knew that when you put "teleporting" in quotes,

congratulations on the misleading article, but you got the page hits you needed.

more proof that all journalism is Yellow journalism

@olive_juice_mean_I_love_u Actually it is teleporting  (as opposed to transmitting) information, which is what they said in the article....  More can be teleported than Spock or a Fly...


@olive_juice_mean_I_love_u You can Google quantum teleportation. It's what scientists call it. I put it in quotes because our modern conception of teleportation is not the same as a quantum physicist's per se . That doesn't mean that it's incorrect wording, nor does it imply I was somehow click baiting. The term is plastered all over the journal article. 

waiting for a correction were they say sorry our calculations are off...we forget to carry a decimal place. I heard this before.

Or not?

Apparently only a minority of math and physics academics[1] acknowledge believing in Eisenstein's explanation where nothing very interesting at all is happening (no faster than light communication and no teleportation).

In Einstein's and colleague's view, if two particles are synchronized (by passing through a polarizing filter or using lasers or other method to polarize the particles), then the particles will have the same properties such as spin, and if you measure the spin of one of the synchronized particles then you will also know the spin of the other synchronized particle.

Unlike Einstein's explanation, Quantum Mechanics calls these particles "entangled" instead of synchronized and teaches that properties such as spin do not truly exist until measured, and if entangled particles return the same spin values when measured then they must have somehow communicated this information with each other.  Bell's inequalities experiment famously supports the "entanglement" theory, though the math behind Bell's experiment is challenged[1]).

[1] 28 Apr 2009, Oxford University Math Department, Disproofs of Bell, GHZ, and Hardy Type Theorems and the Illusion of Entanglement, 

If this result means Alice can set 1bn states per second at point A starting at an agreed time, while Bob starts reading 1bn states per second at point B from an entangled particle at the same time it's exactly what my physicist friends say is impossible, FTL data transfer using quantum entanglement. I hope this is legit because it would be the biggest step forward since the invention of radio comms.

@thustorler The problem is that those particles need to be entangled. This isn't a free lunch. In order for those particles to be entangled, they first need to be physically "together" (I'm forgetting the proper phrasing). That means you still need to wait for them to move at somewhere under the speed of light to another location before you can use the entangled particles in any meaningful way.

*Then* what this is saying is you can alter their spin states reliably at the same time, by manipulating one of them.

This is actually exactly the way quantum entanglement is supposed to work - we've known this for a long time. The new part is that we haven't been able to manipulate it ourselves reliably; but we've watched (or inferred) entangled particles sync their states on their own many times before, and have been able to manipulate them ourselves sporadically.

But you still need a way of entangling those particles, physically transporting them somewhere else, then manipulating them. That still makes what we think of as faster-than-light data transfer between any two points impossible. The best you can hope for is instant data transfer over a "hardwired" connection between two pre-defined points storing entangled particles. That could still be really useful for something like communications between a base on Mars and Earth. But it's not going to do anything for random terrestrial communications over phone or internet.

@badasscat I understand your reply, but this Prof Hanson (University of Delft) claims to be able to repeatedly set one of four possible quantum states on particle A and then read it from entangled particle B admittedly only 3 meters apart. Once the particle is transported (in this case 3 meters!) it can be used as a data channel. That's one step on from what you've described because the same entangled particles can be used repeatedly. I really do hope its legit!

I think they're both right. At least in a virtual reality teleportation is possible but don't forget that it is data being manipulated. Knowing what you have on hand and what to manipulate in order to record it on the other end is nothing out of the ordinary. It is my opinion that they are creating a forced telefragging on purpose to observe such teleportation concept... since what is there to lose? Until you create new science that advances beyond "quantum-mechanics," then you have to agree that Einstein had a point. Perhaps in the Netherlands a new science is being created? Very interesting.

Please explain how checking the "entangled" particle after measuring the first one does not involve the passage of time.  It DOES involve the passage of time, and thus the entangling is not instantaneous as claimed.  What has been constructed is an elaborate experiment that attempts to find something the experiments set out to find.  This is directly contrary to the scientific method, which starts with a premise that the scientist then tries to disprove. Each time he fails to do so, the theory gains in strength.  What this "experiment" did was gather questionable circumstantial evidence then the researchers broke the speed to light in rushing the "results" to the press. 

@Pragmutus It sounds like you're arguing against the existence of quantum entanglement itself, which has been proven many, many times over in many different ways (and has been controlled for exactly the problem you're describing - you think scientists way smarter than you didn't think of this?).

@badasscat @Pragmutus  The methodology for entanglement experiments always involves the passage of time--otherwise there can be no "experiment".  Don't just take my word.  Read some of the other comments above, specifically the Oxford University work disproving some of the basic "math" (actually mandatory suppositions) that entanglement insists on before experiments are undertaken.

@Pragmutus You "check" both simultaneously...  Not walk between them with a microscope.  "Checking" takes no time relative to each other...  Both Qbits are checked simultaneously....

You know the faster than light part is old news right?  That part has been proven over fairly long distances...

"The news was reported first by The New York Times on Thursday, following the publication of a paper in the journal Science."

But thanks to this new discovery, the New York Times was able to ensure their publication was able to be viewed before the journal Science article by creating a wormhole in the space-time continuum... ;-)

"Heisinberg's uncertainty principal" must be entangled into "Heisenberg's uncertainty principle" at faster than the speed of light!

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