Teleportation is the ability to send quantum information from one part of the universe to another, without travelling through the space in between. By sending all the information that describes a single particle and passing it to another, this second particle takes on all the characteristics of the first.
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, first demonstrated in the 1990s.
Today teleportation is a standard phenomenon in quantum optics laboratories and has become a foundational technology behind the slowly emerging quantum internet.
But it has another use. In the 2000s, a Japanese physicist called Masahiro Hotta at Tohoku University took the idea further by suggesting that if teleportation can transmit information, then it should also be able to transmit energy too. He went on to develop the theoretical foundation for quantum energy teleportation.
Now Kazuki Ikeda at 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 teleportation on real quantum hardware,” he says, adding that the ability to teleport energy could have profound implications for the future quantum internet.
The key idea behind quantum energy teleportation is that the energy of any quantum system is constantly fluctuating. It is these natural energy fluctuations that can be exploited on a quantum level.
Hotta originally pointed out that measuring part of a quantum system inevitably injects energy into the system. In the quantum world, this energy can then be extracted from a different part of the system without the energy travelling across the space in between. No energy is gained or lost; it is simply transferred.
Demonstrating this idea requires a set of quantum particles that share the same quantum state and so are entangled.
These were hard to come by when Hotta developed his ideas. But Ikeda noted that systems of entangled particles have become readily available in recent years because of the advent of quantum computers.
Indeed, IBM’s quantum computers are based on superconducting qubits and can be accessed over the internet. Ikeda simply wrote the quantum algorithm that puts Hotta’s idea into action and then used IBM’s quantum computer to run it. “The results are consistent with the exact solution of the theory,” he says.
Inside IBM’s quantum computer, Ikeda was only able to teleport energy over distances roughly the size of a computer chip. But he says, having demonstrated the idea, it should immediately be possible to teleport energy over much longer distances.
He points out the technology is already available to do this over existing links, such as a 158 kilometer link between Stony Brook University and Brookhaven National Laboratory. Beyond that, it should be possible to teleport energy over a quantum internet, once it becomes available, probably in the 2030s, says Ikeda.
That will have profound implications, he says. “The ability to transfer quantum energy over long distances will bring about a new revolution in 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 most economically. That will lead to a new science of quantum information economics, he says.
Of course, there are many steps along the way to achieving this, not least of which will be showing that teleportation can transmit useful amounts of energy. Another interesting question is to what extent energy teleportation is different from information teleportation and where the difference lies. That should help tease apart the deeper nature of the universe and the true roles that information, energy and other primitives play in our reality.
Ref: First Realization of Quantum Energy Teleportation on Quantum Hardware : arxiv.org/abs/2301.02666