Quantum teleportation is not a new term if you are well up-to-date with modern-day technologies and findings. Especially it is the building block of quantum satellites.

What is Quantum Teleportation?

Quantum Teleportation

Quantum teleportation is the communication between distant quantum particles, it is instantaneous information sharing between two quantum particles as if they have some sort of connection. This connection is called quantum entanglement.

Let me try to explain in simple words – Consider you and I have one – one wheel (must be a wheel that obeys quantum laws), both rotating clockwise and are separated by a distance of some miles. If those wheels are entangled and I rotate my wheel anticlockwise, your wheel will also rotate anticlockwise simultaneously with mine, regardless of the lack of their physical interconnection.

So, what makes your wheel know my wheel is rotating in anticlockwise direction? My wheel has some sort of telepathic connection as yours. This telepathic connection is called entanglement. It is due to the strong correlation that exists between two quantum particles with entangled states, regardless of the distance between them.

While quantum teleportation is just instantaneous exchange of quantum information, teleportation refers to the transfer of mass without actually moving through space. So, it should not be mistaken with the usual interpretation of fictional teleportation in which an object travels instantaneously from one location to another without crossing the space between it.

Apart from this, quantum teleportation is possible only in quantum particles (photons, a particle of light) which are created at once and are entangled. Otherwise, it is not possible, so its practical impacts in daily life are limited.

The uses of quantum teleportation

Quantum mechanics is still not fully understood! Quantum systems have various unique traits such as the observer effect (an observer affects the observed), the uncertainties (we cannot simultaneously know the position of a quantum particle if know its position), etc. The observation and hence measurement that can be performed on a quantum particle are limited.

The limitations like this can make application part of quantum teleportation in daily life difficult. But also if we can overcome those limitations, it can transform technologies to a whole new level.

For instance, we can use quantum teleportation in communication. We can code information in the states of one entangled photon and swish! – the receiving party receives the information instantly. The observer effect helps here since anyone spying on the information disturbs the system and the information is lost. It helps to maintain secured wireless communication which is faster than light!

It can also help in making quantum computers, as the instantaneous information sharing can make the calculations faster. But still having such quantum phenomena work in our everyday life is challenging.

Scientists from China and Austria have moved past teleportation of the two-state system (qubits) to three state system (qutrits) recently. There are three variables in this three-state system so that we have more degrees of freedom for encoding. This is a great achievement.

Since technological development is not stationary and is accelerating, we might see its use that has a direct impact on us in the coming future but still seems debatable!

Is teleportation possible?

In order to answer this question from the present development of quantum teleportation, a clear distinction between these two terms should be made.

If you have watched movies X-men and Star trek, the concept becomes clear. In X-men, professor X can communicate through telepathy to the mutants, this sharing of information can be analogous to quantum teleportation. In movie Star trek, the individuals could move from a spaceship to planets instantly, without traversing the space between, this actually is teleportation.

So we can say that quantum teleportation is some sort of telepathy in quantum particles held together by quantum entanglement and completely different from teleportation.

As stated above, teleportation and quantum teleportation has different meaning since the former refers to matter transfer and the latter refers to information exchange. Although Quantum teleportation may lead us to various other glories, I don’t think it can one day lead to teleportation, since matter and information are two independent entities.

We have exchanged the information and we do daily through the wires and waves (phones and internet) but it has never allowed a matter to be transferred in those forms. It would be simple if the matter could be converted to information and completely reconstructed from those set of information. But till date it is impossible and we are nowhere close to it. So I discard this idea of quantum teleportation leading us to teleportation of matter, but it might open door to new realms of understanding and technological marvels.

Quantum teleportation may lead one day to the understanding of quantum entanglement. This will make the picture of the quantum world much vivid and give birth enigmatic technologies.

Ashwin Khadka is a PhD Scholar in Nano Energy and Thermofluid Lab in Korea University, Republic of Korea under Korean Government Scholarship Program. He has a Masters Degree in Physics from Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu, Nepal. He is a science enthusiast, researcher and writer.