Teleportation is the ability to transmit quantum information from one part of the universe to another, without traveling through the space in between. By sending all the information describing one particle and passing it on to another, this second particle takes on all the properties of the first particle.
It is physically indistinguishable from the first and in a sense becomes the first particle, albeit in a different part of the universe. Hence the name teleportation, which first appeared in the 90s.
Today, teleportation is a standard phenomenon in quantum optics laboratories and has become a core technology behind the slowly emerging quantum internet.
The transfer of energy
But it has another use. In 2000, a Japanese physicist called Masahiro Hotta of Tohoku University took the idea even further By suggesting that if a teleporter can transmit information, it should also be able to transmit energy as well. He continued to develop the theoretical basis for quantum energy teleportation.
Now, Kazuki Ikeda of Stony Brook University in New York State says he has succeeded in teleporting energy for the first time using an ordinary quantum computer. “We report the first realization and observation of quantum energy transmission on real quantum devices,” he says, adding that the ability to teleport energy could have profound implications for the quantum internet in the future.
The basic idea behind quantum energy teleportation is that the energy of any quantum system is constantly fluctuating. It is these fluctuations in natural energy that can be exploited on a quantum level.
Hota originally pointed out that measuring a part of a quantum system inevitably injects energy into the system. In the quantum realm, this energy can then be extracted from a different part of the system without the energy traveling through the space in between. No energy is gained or lost; It is simply transferred.
Elucidating this idea requires a group of quantum particles that share the same quantum state and are therefore entangled.
It was hard to come by when Hota developed his ideas. But Ikeda noted that entangled particle systems have become readily available in recent years due to the advent of quantum computers.
In fact, IBM’s quantum computers are based on superconducting qubits that can be accessed over the Internet. Ikeda simply wrote the quantum algorithm that put Hotta’s idea into practice and then used IBM’s quantum computer to run it. “The results are consistent with the exact solution of the theory,” he says.
Inside the IBM quantum computer, Ikeda was only able to transmit energy over distances roughly the size of a computer chip. But, he says, after he demonstrated the idea, it should immediately be possible to transmit energy over much longer distances.
He notes that the technology is already available to do this via existing links, such as the 158-kilometer link between Stony Brook University and Brookhaven National Laboratory. Moreover, it should be possible to transmit energy via the quantum internet, once it becomes available, perhaps in the 2030s, says Ikeda.
He says this will have profound effects. “The ability to transmit quantum energy over long distances will revolutionize quantum communication technology,” says Ikeda.
He imagines that energy and information will be traded over the quantum internet, with traders choosing where to get it economically. He adds that this will lead to a new science of quantum information economics.
Of course, there are many steps along the way to achieving this, not the least of which is showing that teleportation can transfer useful amounts of energy. Another interesting question is how different the teleportation of energy is from the teleportation of information and where the difference lies. This should help unravel the deeper nature of the universe and the true roles that information, energy and other primitives play in our reality.
Reference: First realization of quantum energy teleportation on quantum devices: arxiv.org/abs/2301.02666