Instant, secure ‘teleportation’ of data in the works

Quantum teleportation, where information is sent instantaneously, will secure the Internet, researchers say. Scientists are making progress.

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Sending information instantly between two computer chips using quantum teleportation has been accomplished reliably for the first time, according to scientists from the University of Bristol, in collaboration with the Technical University of Denmark (DTU). Data was exchanged without any electrical or physical connection – a transmission method that may influence the next generation of ultra-secure data networks.

Teleportation involves the moving of information instantaneously and securely. In the “Star Trek” series, fictional people move immediately from one place to another via teleportation. In the University of Bristol experiment, data is passed instantly via a single quantum state across two chips using light particles, or photons. Importantly, each of the two chips knows the characteristics of the other, because they’re entangled through quantum physics, meaning they therefore share a single physics-based state.

The researchers involved in these successful silicon tests said they built the photon-based silicon chips in a lab and then used them to encode the quantum information in single particles. It was “a high-quality entanglement link across two chips, where photons on either chip share a single quantum state,” said Dan Llewellyn of University of Bristol in a press release.

“These chips are able to encode quantum information in light generated inside the circuits and can process the quantum information,” the school stated. It claims a successful quantum teleportation of 91%, which is considered high quality.

Entanglement boosts data transmission

Entanglement links to be used in data transmission are where information is conjoined, or entangled, so that the start of a link has the same state as the end of a link. The particles, and thus data, are at the beginning of the link and at the end of the link at the same time.

The physics principle holds promise for data transmissions, in part because intrusion is easily seen; interference by a bad actor becomes obvious if the beginning state of the link and the end state are no longer the same. In other words, any change in one element means a change in the other, and that can be over distance, too. Additionally, the technique allows leaks to be stopped: Instant key destruction can occur at the actual moment of attempted interference.

“Particles can be in two places at the same time, and they can even be entangled with twin particles, so that they can feel everything that happens to each other,” explained Jonas Schou Neergaard-Nielsen, a senior researcher at DTU, in a 2015 story about the university’s earlier teleportation exploration. “At the sub-microscopic level, where quantum mechanics rule, you find a completely different logic to what we are used to in our macroscopic reality,” Schou Neergaard-Nielsen said back in 2015.

Quantum chips gain momentum

In the bigger picture, the area of quantum-based microprocessors is gaining momentum. It is thought, for example, that quantum-embedded chips could ultimately secure the internet of things. IoT security vendor Crypto Quantique has said that quantum chips could be made unclonable. Its solution uses a quantum method of creating totally random keys from the measurement of low currents on the silicon. It’s related to how electrons can leak through transistor gates. “Unforgeable hardware trust anchors [are] generated by the device,” Crypto Quantique explains on its website. “Our technology offers true randomness.”

A secure quantum computing environment overall could have “profound impacts on modern society,” the University of Bristol said. And with the introduction of entangled physics states across networks, a highly secured “quantum internet could ultimately protect the world’s information from malicious attacks.”

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