Researchers from Leiden University in the
Netherlands have devised a way to teleport electricity.
Teleportation is possible at the atomic scale, and was discovered
a decade ago for photons in free space. The researchers' proposal works
for electrons contained in conductors, and could eventually be used within
A major obstacle to quantum teleportation is that in a metal or
semiconductor electrons exist in a crowd, dubbed the Fermi sea, making
individual electrons difficult to isolate and manipulate.
When the two carriers of electrical current -- negatively-charged
electrons and positively-charged holes -- meet, they cancel each other
out. The researchers have postulated that an entangled electron, however,
could continue its existence at a distant location.
Entangled electrons are connected in such a way that specific
properties of the electrons remain synchronized regardless of the physical
distance between them.
The method could eventually be used to instantly transport information
between the quantum bits, or qubits, of a quantum computer if electrons
could be transported over distances of around 100 microns. Quantum computers
use the properties of particles like photons, electrons and atoms to compute
and are theoretically very fast at certain large problems, including those
that would render today's encryption-based security systems obsolete.
Laboratory demonstrations showing that the method could be used
to transport electrons a few microns could happen within two to five years;
practical applications are a decade or two away, according to the researchers.
The work appeared in the December, 2003 issue of Physical Review Letters.
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