December 15, 2020

A viable quantum internet — a network in which information stored in qubits is shared over long distances through entanglement — would transform the fields of data storage, precision sensing and computing, ushering in a new era of communication.

This month, scientists at Fermilab, a U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science national laboratory, and their partners took a significant step in the direction of realizing a quantum internet.

In a paper published in PRX Quantum, the team presents for the first time a demonstration of a sustained, long-distance (44 kilometers of fiber) teleportation of qubits of photons (quanta of light) with fidelity greater than 90%. The qubits were teleported over a fiber-optic network using state-of-the-art single-photon detectors and off-the-shelf equipment.

“We’re thrilled by these results,” said Fermilab scientist Panagiotis Spentzouris, head of the Fermilab quantum science program and one of the paper’s co-authors. “This is a key achievement on the way to building a technology that will redefine how we conduct global communication.”

Quantum teleportation is a “disembodied” transfer of quantum states from one location to another. The quantum teleportation of a qubit is achieved using quantum entanglement, in which two or more particles are inextricably linked to each other. If an entangled pair of particles is shared between two separate locations, no matter the distance between them, the encoded information is teleported.

The joint team — researchers at Fermilab, AT&T, Caltech, Harvard University, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory and University of Calgary — successfully teleported qubits on two systems: the Caltech Quantum Network, or CQNET, and the Fermilab Quantum Network, or FQNET. The systems were designed, built, commissioned and deployed by Caltech’s public-private research program on Intelligent Quantum Networks and Technologies, or IN-Q-NET.

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