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Basics of quantum teleportation now fit on a single chip

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Until now, quantum teleportation (that is, sending quantum data from one place to another) has required a room-filling machine. That's not going to usher in a brave new era of quantum computing, is it? However, a team of British and Japanese researchers has shrunk things down to a much more reasonable size. They've stuffed the core optical circuits for quantum teleportation into a single silicon chip that's just slightly longer than a penny -- in contrast, an experimental device from 2013 was nearly 14 feet long. While scientists built the chip using "state-of-the-art nano-fabrication," it should be more practical to make than its ancestors, which took months.

This doesn't mean that a whole quantum data transmission system fits on a chip yet -- that's the next step. Even so, this is a big deal for quantum computing as a whole. It's no longer outlandish to imagine reasonably-sized quantum cryptography devices that give you airtight communications, and the technology you see here is ultimately vital to building true quantum computers. This chip may just be a stepping stone, but it's a big one.

[Image credit: University of Bristol / NTT Device Technology Laboratories]

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