Quantum Entanglement Demonstrated on a Tiny Satellite Orbiting Earth

Monday, June 29, 2020 - 11:36

Scientists have successfully demonstrated quantum entanglement onboard a CubeSat satellite orbiting Earth and published their results in Optica.

In the strange field of quantum physics, quantum entanglement – what Einstein called "spooky action at a distance" – stands out as one of the most intriguing phenomena, Science Alert reports.

Quantum entanglement is where two particles become inextricably linked across a distance, so that one serves as an indicator of the other in a certain aspect.

In this case, a small CubeSat satellite, appropriately called SpooQy-1, was used to produce pairs of entangled photons using a blue laser diode and non-linear crystals.

"In the future, our system could be part of a global quantum network transmitting quantum signals to receivers on Earth or on other spacecraft," says quantum physicist Aitor Villar, from the National University of Singapore.

"These signals could be used to implement any type of quantum communications application, from quantum key distribution for extremely secure data transmission to quantum teleportation, where information is transferred by replicating the state of a quantum system from a distance."

The achievement is impressive on a number of levels: not only did it happen in actual space, it was done on a piece of equipment less than 20 cm by 10 cm (7.87 inches by 3.94 inches), and weighing under 2.6 kilograms (5.73 pounds).

In the next couple of years, the team hopes to work on a quantum receiver that can communicate with a CubeSat satellite like this, and to improve the overall ability of CubeSat devices to support quantum networks.

"Progress toward a space-based global quantum network is happening at a fast pace," says Villar. "We hope that our work inspires the next wave of space-based quantum technology missions and that new applications and technologies can benefit from our experimental findings."

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