Scientists in China have successfully teleported a photon from the Earth to a satellite orbiting more than 480 kilometers away.
In a world first, the team beamed the photon from the Gobi Desert in Northwest China to the orbiting Micius satellite using a technique called quantum entanglement.
Rather than physically moving the photon, this kind of teleportation transfers information about it to another point in space, effectively creating a replication.
While teleportation over short distances is relatively common on Earth, this is the first time the process has been carried out over such a long distance.
“Previous teleportation experiments between distant locations were limited to a distance on the order of 100 kilometers due to photon loss in optical fibers or terrestrial free-space channels,” the team told MIT Technology Review.
While Star Trek-style teleportation may be a long way off just yet, the success of this experiment opens up a whole new world of technological possibilities.
Its success could herald a new range of uses, including quantum internet which could connect parts of the world at almost impossible speeds.
“This work establishes the first ground-to-satellite up-link for faithful and ultra-long-distance quantum teleportation, an essential step towards global-scale quantum internet,” the scientists wrote in a paper published online.