Australian physicists are working on a new method of quantum teleportation which they say is closer to the visions of instant transport popularised by Star Trek.
Boffins at the University of Queensland have proposed a scheme, which unlike previous experiments would not rely on the phenomenon of quantum entanglement to teleport quantum states. Researcher Dr Ashton Bradley said: "As our scheme doesn't rely on the quality of the entanglement, it may be possible to achieve more accurate teleportation via this method."
Dr Simon Haine said: "We propose a scheme which allows an atom laser beam to disappear at one location and reappear at another. We feel that our scheme is closer in spirit to the original fictional concept." An atom laser beam is like a light laser beam - the wavelength and frequency of the beam are controlled (coherent), but it fires matter instead of photons.
In the plan, the sender and receiver would both need a supply of extremely cold atoms called a Bose-Einstein Condensate (BEC), within about 100 billionths of a degree from absolute zero. The two BECs would be controlled using a light laser.
Haine explained: "Due to a phenomenon known as Bose-Enhancement, all the atoms like to act the same way. This causes the atoms to act as one macroscopic matterwave, rather than a collection of individual atoms."
Sending a pulse from an atom laser at the sender's BEC would make the atoms in the pulse act like those in the BEC, which would cause the emmission of photons toward the receiver BEC. There, the atoms would absorb the light energy and then re-emit a photon themselves.
The resulting momentum "kicks" some atoms out of the receiver BEC which have the same quantum state at the original atom pulse: it has been teleported.
Bradley said: "Our scheme is quite different from what is usually coined quantum teleportation because it gets around the need for the sender and receiver to share entanglement, as the quantum state to be teleported is never actually measured."
Quantum teleportation is not envisaged as a way of transporting matter, but should be useful in quantum computers: IBM's research page is here. The Queensland team plan to test their method in experiments over the next few years.