'Star Trek' teleporter nearer reality
CANBERRA, Australia -- It's not quite "Star Trek" yet, but Australian university researchers in quantum optics say they have "teleported" a message in a laser beam using the same technology principles that enabled Scotty to beam up Captain Kirk.
What the team at the Australian National University have managed to achieve is to take apart an encrypted laser beam and simultaneously rebuild a replica one meter away.
Using a process called "quantum entanglement", the team effectively teleported a radio signal contained in the laser beam of light from one place to another.
Team leader Ping Koy Lam said the technology was the same as that used in science-fiction series such as "Star Trek".
"What we have demonstrated here is that we can take billions of photons, destroy them simultaneously, and then recreate them in another place," Lam told The Australian newspaper.
A photon is a particle of electro-magnetic radiation energy.
But the team are quick to point out that they have not managed to teleport atoms or matter -- a far more complex task.
For the time being, the main application of the breakthrough is likely to be the creation of completely unbreakable encryption codes for computer transactions and vastly improved computer speeds.
Using this technology, a new class of superfast quantum computers which could solve problems millions of times faster than current computers.
And the breakthrough could lead to an increase in the speed and quantity of information transferred in fiber-optic communications.
But for a human to be teleported, a machine would have to be built that could pinpoint and analyse the trillions and trillions of atoms that make up the human body.
"I think teleporting of that kind is very, very far away," Lam told The Australian.
"We don't know how to do that with a single atom yet. But that doesn't mean that in the far future it's not possible," he said.
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