June 28 (UPI) -- Scientists have successfully teleported quantum information inside a diamond. The breakthrough could provide a boost to quantum computing technologies.
"Quantum teleportation permits the transfer of quantum information into an otherwise inaccessible space," Hideo Kosaka, a professor of engineering at Yokohama National University in Japan, said in a news release. "It also permits the transfer of information into a quantum memory without revealing or destroying the stored quantum information."
Diamonds offer the ideal setting for quantum teleportation. A collection of individually contained but linked carbon atoms inside the diamond provide the "inaccessible space."
The carbon atom is a study in atomic symmetry, boasting a nucleus of six protons and six neutrons. Six electrons orbit the balanced nucleus. Inside a diamond, the carbon atoms form a rigidly structured lattice.
But diamonds aren't perfect. All diamonds have small defects. Often, a nitrogen atoms holds court in one of the two vacancies on either side of one of the carbon atoms -- a defect known as a nitrogen-vacancy center. The nucleus of the nitrogen atom, which is surrounded by carbon atoms, creates what is known as a nanomagnet.
Scientists take advantage of diamond defects to produce unique electromagnetic phenomena.
When researchers supplied a wire to the surface of the diamond and ran a microwave and a radio wave through it, they were able to create an oscillating magnetic field around the outside of the diamond, creating ideal conditions for the quantum teleportation.
Scientists used the microwave and radio wave frequencies to trigger an entanglement between an electron anchored to the nanomagnet and the spinning nucleus of the adjacent carbon atom. The magnetic field of the nanomagnet causes the electron's spin to break down and become vulnerable to entanglement. During entanglement, the physical characteristics of the individual atomic components become blurred beyond recognition.
Researchers supplied the entanglement with a polarized photon carrying quantum information. When the electron absorbs the photon, the polarization state of the photon is transferred to the carbon atom. The entangled electron makes the teleportation of quantum information possible.
In effect, the carbon atom memorizes the photon's polarization, enabling not only the transfer, but also the storage, of quantum information.
Kosaka and his colleagues described their breakthrough in a paper published Friday in the journal Communications Physics.
"The success of the photon storage in the other node establishes the entanglement between two adjacent nodes," Kosaka said. "Our ultimate goal is to realize scalable quantum repeaters for long-haul quantum communications and distributed quantum computers for large-scale quantum computation and metrology."