By PETER O'CONNOR
.c The Associated Press
CANBERRA, Australia (June 17) - Australian scientists said Monday they had
successfully ``teleported'' a laser beam encoded with data, breaking it up and
reconstructing an exact replica a yard away.
Their work replicates an experiment at the California Institute of
Technology in 1998, but the Australian team believes their technique is more
reliable and consistent.
Although the research brings to mind the way ``Star Trek'' characters were
beamed around on TV and in film, scientists at the Australian National
University said their technique's main use will be as a way to encrypt
information and for a new generation of super-fast computers.
At this stage, the process perfected by Australian physicist Ping Koy Lam
and his 12-member team can only teleport light by destroying the light beam
and creating an exact copy at the receiving end from light particles known as
``We have taken a beam of laser light ... and completely destroyed it and
then made measurements of the destroyed laser beam and then took the measured
results to the other side of the lab and reconstructed an exact replica of
what we have destroyed,'' said Lam.
Teleporting a laser beam involves destroying and replicating billions of
Lam said he believes the process, called ``quantum teleportation'' and
which takes a nanosecond - one billionth of one second - will soon be used for
``My prediction is if we are not doing it, it will probably be done by
someone in the next three to five years, that is the teleportation of a single
atom or a small group of atoms,'' he said.
Teleporting a living person would likely be virtually impossible,
``In theory, there is nothing stopping, us but the complexity of the
problem is so huge no one is thinking seriously about it at the moment,'' Lam
Quantum teleportation makes use of a strange aspect of quantum physics
called the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, which says it is impossible to
measure both the speed and position of an object at the same time.
The researchers couldn't directly measure the key characteristics of the
laser beam they wanted to replicate, so they turned to a process called
entanglement. In entanglement, characteristics of tiny particles - like the
photons that make up laser beams - can be mirrored in a second set of
So researchers can make their measurements on a second laser beam that was
entangled with the first. The measurements are then sent by radio waves to the
receiving station, which exactly replicates the first beam that was destroyed
in the process of entanglement.
Lam's team will be presenting the results to an international conference
on quantum electronics in Moscow next week.
06/17/02 16:35 EDT
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