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How Quantum Teleportation Can Bring Us Secure Communications

• Rebecca Boyle via

New advances in quantum teleportation keep coming with greater frequency. Today, a team of European physicists sets the bar higher than ever before. After officially reporting teleportation across nearly 90 miles, through the turbulent ocean atmosphere of the Canary Islands, physicists could be ready to take on the greatest challenge yet — an attempt to teleport particles into space. But why?

Because quantum teleportation, though it's as complex as the sky is blue, could be a useful, secure way to transmit information. Not people, unfortunately -- Star Trek this is not. But in 2012, teleportation of data, in an unhackable, purely encrypted form, could be closer than ever.

On Thursday, Nature published an advance online paper by quantum wizard Anton Zeilinger and colleagues at the Institute for Quantum Optics and Quantum Information in Vienna. The team teleported photons 89 miles between the two Canary Islands of La Palma and Tenerife. And last month, the same journal published a Chinese team's newest teleportation record, a total demolition of their own previous feat, teleporting photons across 60 miles. Both teams first reported these accomplishments within days of each other in May.

But the record-breaking masks the complexity of what's really going on here. After all, the particles didn't really, technically, go that distance.

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