One of physics most intriguing and least understood phenomenon, the quantum entanglement, is being used in space. A physicist from the University of Science and Technology of China in Shanghai, Jian-Wei Pan, were able to produce an entanglement in space. Using photons, Pan and his colleagues created entangled photons on a satellite traveling around the Earth. From there, the scientists sent the photons to two different labs nearly 1,000 miles apart and all without losing the strange quantum entanglement. The results were recently published in the journal Science.
Imagine quantum entanglement as pairs or particle groups that interact with each other but not be in the same area. In other words, when one-half of the pair moves, the other half moves in the same direction, the same way, at the same time. Albert Einstein despite researching the concept called the theory “spooky action at a distance,” reported the Washington Post. Another strange quality of quantum entanglements is the ability to break the core rules of physics including traveling faster than light. Despite researching the concept, no scientist has ever come close to explain quantum entanglement. Though many researchers have been exploring how best to use the theory including superdense coding, quantum teleportation, and probably the most important, quantum computing.
The Washington Post wrote that quantum entanglement could probably be used for “quantum communication.” The new means of communication would not rely on “cables, wireless signals, or code,” practically making it safe against cyber attacks. Using space to transmit entangled photons, Pan and his team of researchers quickly realized that the particles could be sent into space without losing “information.” The team used the Micius satellite for the quantum entanglement. From the satellite, the photons were sent to the city of Delingha on the Tibetan Plateau and to a city in southwest China, Lijiang. This nearly 1,000-mile divide is the furthest entangled particles have ever been. Using the traditional methods, fiber optic cables, the furthest the particles could get is about 70 miles or the distance from New York City to Trenton, NJ.
Pan’s next step is to set up a channel allowing for thousands of entangled particles to be transmitted. His hope is for satellites to be “used for quantum communication.” To optimize the satellites, time and areas will need to be expanded, which will need “new satellites with higher orbits,” Pan said to Live Science. With new satellites, bigger telescopes and a finer tracking is also required. More time, research, and effort are needed before Pan’s idea can come true.
By Cheryl Werber