Scientists just smashed the distance record for quantum teleportation

Physicists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have broken the quantum teleportation record in a big way. In a paper published this week in Optica, they report successfully transferring information from one photon to another across over 60 miles of fiber-optic cable — four times the distance of the previous record.

[Behold! A new record for the world’s highest melting point]

What’s all that mean? Most of us hear the word “teleportation” and think of “Star Trek,” but quantum teleportation is very real — and slightly less exciting.

It relies on something called quantum entanglement — what Albert Einstein called “spooky action at a distance.” When close subatomic particles become entangled, they become linked forever — even if they’re taken very far apart from each other. When one of those particles transmits its quantum data to the other, it’s essentially teleporting itself.

[Stephen Hawking believes he’s solved a huge mystery about black holes]

It basically works like this:

Do you need more visuals? I need more visuals. Let’s have more visuals:

To break the distance record, the NIST had to use a very sensitive detector, one that could detect single photons. “Only about 1 percent of photons make it all the way through 100 km of fiber,” NIST’s Marty Stevens said in a statement. “We never could have done this experiment without these new detectors, which can measure this incredibly weak signal.

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