Physicists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have teleported a computer circuit instruction known as a quantum logic operation between two separated electrically charged atoms, showcasing how quantum computer programs could carry out tasks in future large-scale quantum networks.
Quantum teleportation transfers data from one quantum system (such as an ion) to another (such as a second ion), even if the two are completely isolated from each other, like two books in the basements of separate buildings. In this real-life form of teleportation, only quantum information, not matter, is transported, as opposed to the Star Trek version of “beaming” entire human beings from, say, a spaceship to a planet.
Teleportation of quantum data has been demonstrated previously with ions and a variety of other quantum systems. But the new work is the first to teleport a complete quantum logic operation using ions, a leading candidate for the architecture of future quantum computers.
“We verified that our logic operation works on all input states of two quantum bits with 85 to 87% probability—far from perfect, but it is a start,” NIST physicist Dietrich Leibfried said in a statement. A full-scale quantum computer, if one can be built, could solve certain problems that are currently intractable. NIST has contributed to global research efforts to harness quantum behavior for practical technologies, including efforts to build quantum computers.