A promising breakthrough in ultrasecure quantum communications
Thanks to Micius, a satellite launched in 2016 as part of China's "Quantum Experiments at Space Scale" program, a research team broke the distance record between two entangled quantum particles. They succeed in sending a pair of entangled photons from the satellite to two ground stations 1,200 kilometers apart. Under the principle of quantum entanglement, the measure of one photon enabled researchers to know the state of the other. This is an impressive achievement as a pair of photons is a very fragile system that can disentangle with the slightest disturbance. The previous record was only 100 kilometers.
This success is a major step forward for China in the quantum race. It opens the way to ultrasecure communication networks and eventually a space-based quantum internet. A string of entangled photons, in distant locations, could be a "quantum key" securing communications: anyone trying to hack a quantum-encrypted message would disrupt the shared key, alerting everyone to a compromised channel.
Spotted in 2018