Working out of a base station in Tibet more than 4,500 meters above sea level, the team achieved the feat thanks to Micius – a tiny quantum-enabled satellite that was launched in to orbit last year.
The key to the project is a concept known as quantum entanglement, which involves pairs of entangled particles, each inextricably linked to the other even when they are apart.
This phenomenon, which Einstein referred to as “spooky action at a distance”, means that changing the properties of one particle will result in a corresponding change in the other, even when the two entangled particles are located a large distance from one another.
Scientists had previously demonstrated the potential to ‘teleport’ data between two entangled particles in a laboratory, but now, the team in China has managed to achieve the same thing over a distance of up to 1,400 miles by beaming one half of an entangled pair up to the orbiting satellite.
Their success marks the first step towards the creation of an encrypted quantum network – a completely uncrackable form of communication.
One day, methods like these could even lead to the creation of a super-secure quantum Internet.