Atom Experiment Brings Teleportation Closer to Reality


LONDON (Sept. 26) - Physicists in Denmark have made two samples of trillions of atoms interact at a distance in an experiment which may bring Star Trek-style teleportation and rapid quantum computing closer to reality.

Eugene Polzik and his colleagues at the University of Aarhus are not about to beam anyone up to the Starship Enterprise, but their research reported in the science journal Nature on Wednesday makes the idea of instantly transporting an object from one place to another less far fetched.

It involves quantum entanglement -- a mysterious concept of entwining two or more particles without physical contact. Albert Einstein once described it as ''spooky action at a distance.''

Entangled states are needed for quantum computing and teleportation. Scientists have entangled states of a few atoms in earlier experiments but Polzik and his team have done it with very large numbers and using laser light.

''It is the first result where two macroscopic material objects have been entangled,'' Polzik explained in a telephone interview.

''We have produced entanglement at a distance which means you and me can share entangled objects which is important for quantum communication, including quantum teleportation.''

In 1998 what has been described as the first teleportation experiment was done when scientists at the California Institute of Technology teleported a beam of light across a laboratory bench.

Ignacio Cirac, a physicist at the University of Innsbruck in Austria said achievement of Polzik and his team could lead to real-life quantum communication systems, teleportation and quantum computers.

''This is the first time two different atomic samples have been entangled in this way -- using light -- even though the samples are separated by some distance,'' he said in a commentary in Nature.

Cirac believes further experiments will follow which could ''revolutionize the field of quantum information.''

Reuters 14:56 09-26-01