Chinese science teleported into the lead in quantum race
China has become the first country to send quantum keys — highly complex encryptions — from a satellite to a base on Earth, and to teleport light particles the other way.
The accomplishments are two major breakthroughs in the effort to create an unhackable global communications network.
The two experiments mark the completion of the the second and third of the three main goals of Micius, the world’s first quantum communications satellite, which China launched last year.
The first goal, to send entangled light particles further than ever before, was achieved in June. Entanglement is a phenomenon in which two or more particles can affect each other simultaneously regardless of distance. Entangled particles cannot be described independently of each other.
Bai Chunli, president of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said China is now the world leader in quantum communication technologies and is working with scientists from Austria, Germany and Italy. He said Micius will continue to perform experiments until its expected service life expires next year.
“The trio of quantum experiments will be central to any global space-based quantum internet,” Karl Ziemelis, chief physical science editor at Nature magazine, said in a video interview. The magazine published two articles about China’s breakthroughs on Thursday.
“They are testaments to China’s investment and significant effort in physical sciences … and pushed research in practical quantum communication technology to such astronomical heights.”
All private data, bank accounts to from social media pictures, are protected by “keys”, which are extremely complex mathematical codes transmitted between users and companies. However, these codes can be exploited if a hacker “eavesdrops” on these keys during transmission.
Quantum keys use quantum physics rather than math
Left: Tourists gather their belongings at a hotel parking lot as they prepare to leave the mountainous earthquake zone on Wednesday. Right: Forces unleashed by the earthquake opened a large crack in the expressway from Songpan county to Jiuzhaigou county.