Scientists achieve teleportation breakthrough

Japanese researchers carry out quantum teleportation within a diamond.

Scientists achieve teleportation breakthrough
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  • Scientists figure out how to teleport information within a diamond.
  • The study took advantage of defects in the diamond's structure.
  • The achievement has implications for quantum computing.


Scientists from the Yokohama National University in Japan achieved the feat of teleporting quantum information within a diamond. Their study is an important step in the field of quantum information technology.

Hideo Kosaka, a professor of engineering at Yokohama National University, led the study. He explained that the goal was to get data where it doesn't normally go

"Quantum teleportation permits the transfer of quantum information into an otherwise inaccessible space," shared Kosaka. "It also permits the transfer of information into a quantum memory without revealing or destroying the stored quantum information."

The "inaccessible space" explored in the study was the lattice of carbon atoms in a diamond. The strength of the structure stems from the diamond's organization that has six protons and six neutrons in the nucleus, with six spinning electrons around it. As they bond to the diamond, the atoms form a super-strong lattice.

For their experiments, Kosaka and his team focused on defects that sometimes arise in diamonds, when a nitrogen atom appears in vacancies that would ordinarily house carbon atoms.

Kosaka's team manipulated an electron and a carbon isotope in such a vacancy by running a microwave and a radio wave into the diamond via a very thin wire – one fourth the width of a human hair. The wire was attached to the diamond, creating an oscillating magnetic field.

The scientists controlled the microwaves sent to the diamond to transfer information within it. In particular, they employed a nitrogen nano magnet to transfer the polarization state of a photon to a carbon atom, effectively achieving teleportation.

The diamond's lattice structure features a nitrogen-vacancy center with surrounding carbons. In this image, the carbon isotope (green) is initially entangled with an electron (blue) in the vacancy. It then waits for a photon (red) to be absorbed. This results in quantum teleportation-based state transfer of the photon into the carbon memory.

Credit: Yokohama National University

"The success of the photon storage in the other node establishes the entanglement between two adjacent nodes," Kosaka said, adding that their "ultimate goal" was to figure out how to make use of such processes "for large-scale quantum computation and metrology."

The accomplishment could prove vital in the quest for new ways to store and share sensitive information, with previous studies showing diamonds could house giant amounts of encrypted data.

Kosaka's team also included Kazuya Tsurumoto, Ryota Kuroiwa, Hiroki Kano, and Yuhei Sekiguchi.

You can find their study published in Communications Physics.

This is what aliens would 'hear' if they flew by Earth

A Mercury-bound spacecraft's noisy flyby of our home planet.

Image source: sdecoret on Shutterstock/ESA/Big Think
Surprising Science
  • There is no sound in space, but if there was, this is what it might sound like passing by Earth.
  • A spacecraft bound for Mercury recorded data while swinging around our planet, and that data was converted into sound.
  • Yes, in space no one can hear you scream, but this is still some chill stuff.

First off, let's be clear what we mean by "hear" here. (Here, here!)

Sound, as we know it, requires air. What our ears capture is actually oscillating waves of fluctuating air pressure. Cilia, fibers in our ears, respond to these fluctuations by firing off corresponding clusters of tones at different pitches to our brains. This is what we perceive as sound.

All of which is to say, sound requires air, and space is notoriously void of that. So, in terms of human-perceivable sound, it's silent out there. Nonetheless, there can be cyclical events in space — such as oscillating values in streams of captured data — that can be mapped to pitches, and thus made audible.

BepiColombo

Image source: European Space Agency

The European Space Agency's BepiColombo spacecraft took off from Kourou, French Guyana on October 20, 2019, on its way to Mercury. To reduce its speed for the proper trajectory to Mercury, BepiColombo executed a "gravity-assist flyby," slinging itself around the Earth before leaving home. Over the course of its 34-minute flyby, its two data recorders captured five data sets that Italy's National Institute for Astrophysics (INAF) enhanced and converted into sound waves.

Into and out of Earth's shadow

In April, BepiColombo began its closest approach to Earth, ranging from 256,393 kilometers (159,315 miles) to 129,488 kilometers (80,460 miles) away. The audio above starts as BepiColombo begins to sneak into the Earth's shadow facing away from the sun.

The data was captured by BepiColombo's Italian Spring Accelerometer (ISA) instrument. Says Carmelo Magnafico of the ISA team, "When the spacecraft enters the shadow and the force of the Sun disappears, we can hear a slight vibration. The solar panels, previously flexed by the Sun, then find a new balance. Upon exiting the shadow, we can hear the effect again."

In addition to making for some cool sounds, the phenomenon allowed the ISA team to confirm just how sensitive their instrument is. "This is an extraordinary situation," says Carmelo. "Since we started the cruise, we have only been in direct sunshine, so we did not have the possibility to check effectively whether our instrument is measuring the variations of the force of the sunlight."

When the craft arrives at Mercury, the ISA will be tasked with studying the planets gravity.

Magentosphere melody

The second clip is derived from data captured by BepiColombo's MPO-MAG magnetometer, AKA MERMAG, as the craft traveled through Earth's magnetosphere, the area surrounding the planet that's determined by the its magnetic field.

BepiColombo eventually entered the hellish mangentosheath, the region battered by cosmic plasma from the sun before the craft passed into the relatively peaceful magentopause that marks the transition between the magnetosphere and Earth's own magnetic field.

MERMAG will map Mercury's magnetosphere, as well as the magnetic state of the planet's interior. As a secondary objective, it will assess the interaction of the solar wind, Mercury's magnetic field, and the planet, analyzing the dynamics of the magnetosphere and its interaction with Mercury.

Recording session over, BepiColombo is now slipping through space silently with its arrival at Mercury planned for 2025.

Photo by Martin Adams on Unsplash
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