Most people, at one time or another, have wished that they could teleport themselves or objects across time and space. While we are still light years away from accomplishing the teleportation of physical matter, scientist have recently discovered a way to teleport the next most important thing in all our lives: Data.


In May of 2014, Dutch researchers achieved what they call, “unconditional quantum teleportation.”  They were able to transfer the spin state of an electron, otherwise known as quantum data. They teleported the data without moving the actual, physical matter to which the information was attached. The scientists successfully transferred these quantum bits, known as qubits, over ten feet, for 100 percent of their attempts.  Similar research was conducted at the University of Maryland several years ago, but that team was only able to successfully achieve teleportation for one out of every 100 million attempts. The Dutch team plans to continue their trials, increasing the teleportation distance to over one kilometer in upcoming tests.


What is Data Teleportation?


It is important to understand that data teleportation is not the same thing as the teleportation we see in “Star Trek” or other works of science fiction. In those fictional scenarios, atoms get converted into energy. That energy is then “beamed” to a new destination, where is it converted back into atoms. So when Captain Kirk gets beamed up or down, the atoms that make up his body are physically moved from one location to the other. In data teleportation, however, the atoms do not move. Rather, it is information about the state of that atom or particle that is moved from one place to the other.


Data Teleportation


Computer scientists around the world are paying close attention to the results of these Dutch tests. Quantum computing has been a hot topic among those in the field who are always looking for faster, more secure ways to transmit data. Most computer scientists believe that quantum computing and data teleportation are the future. Teams at IBM, Lockheed Martin, and Google are all currently working diligently on building quantum computers.


Corporations aren’t the only entities interested in quantum sciences. The United States National Security Agency (NSA) believes that quantum computing is the key to cracking all known forms of cryptography, and they are working extensively on proving that theory and harnessing the power of data teleportation and quantum computing for future applications relating to national security.


Why are researchers so interested in science-fiction type concepts like quantum computing and data teleportation?


Quantum computers are better than our standard, digital computers when it comes to conducting complex mathematical operations that involve prime numbers – making them highly efficient. Quantum networks are also 100% secure because they are able to transmit data packets across great distances without the data actually having to travel those great distances.


Researchers at Harvard University are on their way to making the dream of a quantum internet a reality. They have developed switches that can be turned off and on with a single photon. The switches are built from a single atom, and eventually could be networked through fiber-optic cables, thus forming the framework for a super-high speed, 100 percent secure internet.


Data Teleportation


Quantum systems make it impossible for third-parties to intercept the data. Why? Because the act of measuring quantum data actually changes it, and leaves behind any trace of interception or attempted interception. Of course, there are quantum hackers who are already attempting to find ways to intercept teleported data undetected, but even those hackers admit that it’s not going to be an easy feat.


Quantum computing is, in essence, hacker-proof, but if the network is not set up properly, it leaves a doorway open for highly skilled techs to intercept the data before it is sent. That means that human error is the only thing that stands in the way of perfect data security.


For anyone who has ever had their personal information hacked, these developments probably seem like a dream come true. The average user won’t be able to access a quantum internet any time in the near future, however. Instead, the first uses of quantum data will likely be for government agencies, their corporate contractors, and other large institutions that transmit vast amounts of sensitive data on a regular basis. And currently data teleportation and quantum cryptography are only capable of being conducted over very short distances. Research is moving in the right direction, but the average consumer would not have the need for this type of system.


Scientists believe that in as little as ten years, these systems will be in regular use for large entities, and though quantum systems will be highly scalable, they likely won’t become standard for personal computing for several decades.


Thanks to the recent breakthroughs by Dutch scientists, data teleportation has officially become a reality. As research continues to press forward, data teleportation and quantum computing will eventually be able to provide a completely secure way to transmit data.  We still have a very long way to go before data teleportation can be conducted over long distances, but scientists around the world are working around the clock to develop a 100% secure internet.