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Physicists Just Smashed a Record to Achieve Quantum Entanglement in Space

Although quantum entanglement was formerly thought of as the "freaky kid" of physics, it has gone a very far way since Einstein dismissed it as "spooky activity at a distance."

In a recent experiment, researchers successfully sent entangled photons over 1,200 kilometres from a satellite to Earth (750 miles). The previous record for entanglement dispersion, which only extended up to 100 kilometres, is shattered by this.

As stated in the study's principal author Juan Yin's statement, "We have shown the distribution of two entangled photons from a satellite to two ground stations that are 1,203 kilometres apart." Juan Yin is a physicist at the Science and Technology University of China in Shanghai.

"Quantum networks and their theories must be tested across long distances," says the author.

Quantum entanglement is a weird phenomena that happens when two or more particles join up and instantly impact each other, regardless of how far away they are. Einstein once laughed it off.


Quantum entanglement states that if we, for instance, cause one particle to spin in a clockwise manner, the other particle, whether it be one centimetre away or at the other end of the cosmos, will spin in an anti-clockwise direction.


While quantum entanglement has become a crucial tool for examining how information may be conveyed over great distances, Einstein was not so confident that such strange particle behaviour was truly taking place in the real-life Universe.

This is already useful for applications in supercomputing and hacker-proof banking.


However, scientists have only been able to disperse entangled particles up to a hundred kilometres away. The challenge with long-distance entanglement is that the particles frequently wander off as they move over open spaces or through optical fibres.


There are a few approaches physicists might take to solve this issue. Breaking the transmission line into smaller pieces and swapping, purifying, and storing the quantum information along the optical fibre are two methods of enhancing particle dispersal.

This is all well and good, but when information needs to be kept for a long time and accessed rapidly, getting all of these components to operate together flawlessly is still a challenge.


Fortunately, utilising laser beams and satellite technology, Yin and his team have now revealed a superior method for building worldwide quantum networks.


The researchers set out to connect with three ground stations around China using entangled photons with the aid of Micius, the first quantum-enabled satellite deployed last year (light particles).

The distance between each station and the orbiting satellite ranged from 500 to 2,000 kilometres. The stations were each around 1,200 kilometres apart.


They divided the satellite's laser beam into two separate polarised states using a beam splitter. The entangled photons were sent using one of these split beams, and received using the other.


The photons kept their entanglement throughout the lengthy round-trip and were successfully received by the ground stations, which were more than a thousand kilometres distant.

The team says in its report, "The result again verifies the nonlocal aspect of entanglement and rejects the models of reality that depend on the ideas of locality and realism."


The connection effectiveness of our satellite-based strategy is 12 and 17 orders of magnitude greater than the prior way of entanglement distribution by direct transmission of the identical two-photon source, according to the research.


The fundamental advantage of this strategy is that two Earth-based sites that are thousands of kilometres apart may be readily covered by satellites. There is essentially little loss of particles since the majority of the transmission line is in a vacuum.

The team claims that its satellite-based approach would still be four to eight orders of magnitude more effective even if ideal optical fibres were created in the future.


These new discoveries bring up a whole new universe of real-world applications, from improved communication networks to secure payment systems, even if quantum entanglement will always screw with our thoughts.

We can only hope that this record will be broken soon.

Science has published the research.

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