Quantum teleportation of two properties wins Physics World Breakthrough of the Year Award

11 December 2015

Research that achieved quantum teleportation of two properties of an elementary particle has been named Breakthrough of the Year 2015 by Physics World.

Professor Chaoyang Lu and Professor Jian-Wei Pan

  
Chinese physicists Professor Chaoyang Lu and Professor Jian-Wei Pan transferred a photon’s spin and its orbital angular momentum to another photon some distance away. Their feat was reported in Nature in February 2015.

Successfully teleporting a quantum state involves measuring a system’s state, transmitting that information to a distant location, then reconstructing a flawless copy of the original state. A perfect transfer is done when the first particle loses all of the properties that are teleported to the other.

It was shown in 1993 that teleportation of a quantum state was theoretically possible, and the first actual teleportation of one property – the polarisation of a photon – was achieved in 1997. But Lu and Pan are the first to achieve quantum teleportation of two physical properties.

Lu (pictured left) and Pan (right), from the University of Science and Technology of China, in Hefei, hope to extend their work to teleportation of three properties. Though this is much more difficult, and requires the ability to entangle 10 photons, they hope to achieve this within a few months and move on to 20-photon entanglement within three years.

Pan said it was “very exciting indeed” to win the Physics Breakthrough of the Year Award and he is aware of the potential applications of the research. “In addition to its fundamental interest, quantum teleportation has been recognised as a key element in the ongoing development of long-distance quantum communications that provide unbreakable security, ultrafast quantum computers, and quantum networks,” he said.

Nine other achievements were shortlisted for the award, including the first direct detection of visible light from an exoplanet, the observation of two pentaquarks at CERN and the discovery that hydrogen sulphide is a superconductor at 203 K (a temperature that occurs naturally at the Earth’s surface), which could pave the way for room-temperature superconductors.