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to encrypt data, making them impossible to hack by conventional computers. They also have the ability to alert authorities when someone tries to eavesdrop, said Pan Jianwei, an academician with the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the chief physicist behind Micius.
“This will have major applications in government, military, finance, energy and other fields where security is paramount,” he added.
However, distributing quantum keys is difficult because sending them over long distances via fiber optics or during daytime results in massive signal loss or disturbance.
In the latest quantum key experiment, Micius beamed photons — individual particles of light — and created an optical link with the observatory station in Xinglong, Hebei province. When the link was at 1,200 kilometers, scientists discovered that quantum key distribution efficiency between the two improved 100 quintillion times (1 followed by 20 zeros) compared with fiber optics of the same length.
Micius produced and transmitted about 300,000 bits of quantum keys during the experiment. One practical use for these keys is to create advanced encryptions that are impossible for computers to hack with “brute force”, a method in which a computer guesses all possible combinations of a pass code.
“Combine all the computing power of the world, which is around two to the power of 80 to 100, it will still take years for it to guess the correct combination,” Pan said.
The second experiment is about one of the biggest mysteries of quantum mechanics known as quantum teleportation, Ziemelis said. In the experiment, Chinese scientists “spookily” transferred a photon on Earth to Micius in without needing the itself to move.
“Its effect is like the Star Trek teleporter,” said Pan. It works by deconstructing a photon on Earth, then sending its extracted quantum information to Micius’s receivers via entangled link. Then an entangled photon in space downloads the information and takes on the complete identity of the original.
This experiment would have great theoretical research value in quantum science, as well as building a large-scale quantum internet and computation networks. But scientists are still centuries away from building a teleporter capable of transferring something as biologically complex as humans, Pan said.
China also plans to build the world’s first global quantum communication network by 2030. It will consist of three high-orbit and dozens of lower-orbit quantum space, object