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Chinese physicists break new record in exploiting quantum entanglement

Quantum entanglement is a curious physical property of our universe where paired quantum objects, regardless where they are, instantly reflect one another. Albert Einstein called this “Spooky action at a distance.” Photons (light particles) are quantum objects. Physicists have experimentally confirmed this entanglement phenomenon. One way is to split a photon into two lower-energy photons, and the resulting pair becomes entangled. (Here is a good explanation.) Photons have various properties. When a property in the entangled pair is altered, the other’s same property reflects instantaneously. Physicists have demonstrated separating the entangled photons using fiber optics cables. Again, over some distance, the entanglement property holds.

Imagine a quantum entangled particle is placed on the moon and it’s partner is placed on earth. Sending information between the moon and earth would be instantaneous. For many people who followed the 2009 Mars rover, they will likely know it takes a very long time for new control signals to reach it. Quantum entanglement may hold the key to solve that latency issue.

In 2010, a team of Chinese physicists lead by Juan Yin, at the National Laboratory for Physical Sciences at Microscale and Department of Modern Physics, at the University of Science and Technology of China in Shanghai in conjunction with Chinese Academy of Sciences, set a world record of 16 kilometers in distancing entangled particles.

(Source: Juan Yin, et al, "Teleporting independent qubits through a 97 km free-space channel," May 10, 2012, http://arxiv.org/pdf/1205.2024v1.pdf)

This same team has now made another major breakthrough – 97 kilometers! In their May 10, 2012 paper, “Teleporting independent qubits through a 97 km free-space channel,” the team demonstrated sending 1100 entangled photons 97 km away over a lake. Photons over any medium could easily get destroyed. The team has invented a way to preserve them over such a large distance.

As their paper states, an application for this is also satellite communications:

Moreover, the high-frequency and high-accuracy acquiring, pointing and tracking (APT) technique developed in our experiment can be directly utilized for future satellite-based quantum communication.

Nobel Prize for Physics?

Remember, once the entangled pair are apart, information exchange between them cannot be intercepted. Information between the pair can be passed regardless of distance and medium. Communications faster than the speed of light?!

MIT’s Technology Review has picked up on this breakthrough. This is an exciting technology to follow.

  1. Zack
    May 12th, 2012 at 02:52 | #1

    this is excellent news, and it’s something i’ve been following for quite some time now. Needless to say, the western presses will waste no time attempting to claim that China will use this for military reasons-as if that’s the only thing new technology can ever be used for (and actually quantum communications will enable China’s military to have secure communications).

    As for Nobel Prize, i’ll be incredibly surprised if China’s scientists were awarded a Nobel Prize for this; the Nobel Prize committee is widely acknowledged by informed persons to be tools of foreign policy by racist western ideologues. No, what’ll most likely happen is the US cyber department will attempt to steal this technology and then try to claim national credit for it.
    It’s best if China owns all the patents for this new technology; make the West pay for stealing other peoples’ ideas for once.

  2. May 12th, 2012 at 11:10 | #2

    I don’t think this would qualify for Nobel Physics prize.

    This is more Applied Physics, a matter of using existing theories to construct new devices.

    Unfortunately, it doesn’t sound like they discovered any new theories of physics with these experiments.

    But they should at least get some really good patents out of this one.

    Or they could just keep most of it secret.

  3. Zack
    May 12th, 2012 at 13:18 | #3

    yinyang, thanks once again for posting this; i should like to read more about more breakthroughs in China’s scientific advances in this blog.

    But of course, this breakthrough in quantum communications is just the tip of the iceberg of a vast and vibrant R&D sector in China.

    Chinese advances include research in genetics, nanotech, supercomputing and nuclear research.

  4. May 13th, 2012 at 06:50 | #4

    @Zack
    For more R&D or breakthrough. Check out this site:

    http://www.chinatechgadget.com/

  5. May 13th, 2012 at 13:11 | #5

    @raventhorn

    I always thought that they *only* gave physics nobels to applied physics and not to theoretical (unless it has applications). That’s why Einstein never won one for his theoretical work in relativity but did for the photoelectric effect.

    Many other examples of applied physics out there such as last’s years.

  6. May 13th, 2012 at 16:33 | #6

    @melektaus

    Actually, we are both incorrect.

    http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/physics/shortfacts.html

    As described in Nobel’s will, one part was dedicated to “the person who shall have made the most important discovery or invention within the field of physics”.

  7. May 13th, 2012 at 16:44 | #7

    Right but doesn’t the prize always have to be in accordance with Nobel’s will which states that the prize is awarded to inventions or discoveries which confers the greatest “benefit on mankind”? Many theoretical advances have little benefit on all of mankind which is why they don’t win the award even though they are groundbreaking in theoretical advancement.

  8. May 13th, 2012 at 17:17 | #8

    @melektaus

    All theoretical advances have benefits of “greater understanding”. And applications are based on theories.

    Einstein’s photoelectricity theories were purely theoretical.

  9. May 13th, 2012 at 17:30 | #9

    @raventhorn

    That’s not what I take Nobel meant by “benefit on mankind” because theoretical advancements sometimes benefits few (other physicists e.g.) or negatively harm society. What Nobel wanted to create was something that benefited mankind in a practical manner such as applications in technology such as this discovery has potential for applications in technology. So some great discoveries in physics have little benefits in this sense and thus discoverers have never won for that discovery.

  10. May 13th, 2012 at 18:01 | #10

    Also see

    http://www.snopes.com/science/nobel.asp

    “Nobel was interested in development work and specified that his prizes should be awarded for “important discoveries and inventions.” Mathematics was a field he may have considered too theoretical to produce the direct practical benefits to mankind whose discoverers he sought to reward.”

    They may now give some Nobel prizes to mainly theoretical work in physics but I would imagine that Nobel’s original purpose stated in his will still has some weight in decisions on awarding prizes.

  11. lolz
    May 14th, 2012 at 01:05 | #11

    Zack :
    As for Nobel Prize, i’ll be incredibly surprised if China’s scientists were awarded a Nobel Prize for this; the Nobel Prize committee is widely acknowledged by informed persons to be tools of foreign policy by racist western ideologues.

    The Nobel peace prize is highly politicized, I think the other categories are far less so.

  12. May 15th, 2012 at 18:00 | #12

    Also, the racists will come out claiming this is stolen technology.

    Danny Fullerton, Computer Security Freak & Founder, Mantor Organization

    They stolen this knowledge from whom?

    Glenn Scott

    Someone else who now knows about it. Hopefully they will plug the leak the chinese have been using to steal their work….sorry…what’s that term the chinese use for stealing other peoples knowledge and claiming it as their own? Oh, yeah…”Indigenous Innovation”. Stealing other peoples knowledge is so rampant in China, they named it!

    But then, there are those who are more rational:

    Jeremy Collake

    The Chinese, as a country, have a lot more people – and thus a lot more brilliant minds. I don’t think they need to steal anything. Software piracy and such, which you may be referring to, is a different subject than scientific advances, IMHO.

  13. Zack
    May 16th, 2012 at 10:18 | #13

    @YinYang
    reminds me of how as recently as the 2000s, you’d have western journalists/analysts assuming that China or east Asia was somehow racially incapable of innovating (they tried to cite it as ‘cultural reasons’ but the intent was as obvious as anything); at this stage, Westerners, particularly the racist sort, are going to go through the Denial Phase, which is normal for people who have yet to come to grips with the fact that the West is no longer paramount.

    i say let them doubt it, we’ll leave them in the fucking dust; Xinhua is already using this quantum communication technology:
    http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/china/2012-02/21/c_131423541.htm

    y’know what i love the most about this? In the Western (typically British and European) narrative of the Opium Wars, they love to portray the Qing as arrogantly unaware of the scientific advances of the West; well the shoe’s on the other foot now, except this time the West is arrogantly assuming that their place in the sun will last forever.

  14. flowin
    July 25th, 2014 at 23:34 | #14

    i would love to see what would happen if one of these entangled photons was dropped into a wee black hole – so it experienced a vastly different time dilation to its partner. would the spooky action at a distance obey the timeline of both photons, so that the one out of the hole communicated with the one in the hole years in its own future, (and vice versa, when the black hole decays and releases its photon, would that one then be communicating with a photon from its past?) or would the entanglement defy the timeline of the dilated photon? can see all sorts of military uses for a comms system that can talk to the past…

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