Prepare to be teleported! Scientists Teleport Data Across Chip

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Quantum mechanics allows for some very strange things, like the teleportation of information and computers that can break even the toughest codes. Recently, scientists at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich made a step toward building a working quantum computer by teleporting bits of information across a computer chip. The results of the study were detailed Aug. 15 in the journal Nature. Creating such a circuit is an important milestone, said Benjamin Schumacher, a professor of physics at Kenyon College in Ohio. “Everybody really knows if you are ever going to make a real quantum computer, it must be solid state,” said Schumacher, who was not involved in the new research. “Solid state” refers to computers built with single-piece transistors — with no moving parts and with components that are self-contained. Almost every electronic device is built with solid-state electronics. [Wacky Physics: The Coolest Quantum Particles Explained] Bill Munro, a research scientist at Japanese phone giant NTT, who has done extensive research into quantum computing, said the ETH team’s work is a “very nice experiment,” adding, “it really shows prototyping the technology” involved in making a quantum computer. Previous teleportation experiments have used lasers to transport quantum information between photons. But that isn’t as practical for building real computers. Solid-state circuits, on the other hand, are a well-known field and computer chip manufacturers have decades of experience in miniaturizing them, Schumacher said. In new experiment, the scientists took advantage of a property of quantum physics called entanglement to teleport the quantum bits, called qubits. When two particles interact, they form a connection — they are entangled — so that an action performed on one affects the other, even when they’re separated by great distances. In addition, no matter how far apart they are, if you know the state of one particle, you instantly know the state of the other. For quantum computers, though, instantaneous transmission isn’t critical.