Try approaching any co-worker, family member or friend and ask them what superpower I would have done it if I could choose between all the dreams that cinema and television have thrown into the collective imagination. Most would answer without hesitation that their choice would be the ability to teleport to any part of the planet. Or, to be more technical and strip the term of its science fiction aura, teleport from one point to another. The traveler’s dream low cost. The balm of long-distance relationships. An impossible technology, typical of the universe Star Trekwhich nevertheless seems a little more real today thanks to a investigation scientist in which a Spaniard participated, the doctor Adam Vallesspecialist in Photonics And Quantum optics in the Institute of Photonic Sciences (ICFO) of Castelldefels.

Vallées contributed to the preparation of a paper published by the magazine Nature title Quantum transport of high-dimensional spatial information with a nonlinear detector. The unattractive title – unless you are a specialist on the subject – suggests that the researchers succeeded in teleporting complex information thanks to quantum technology based on photons. Instead of traditional two-dimensional quantum systems, such as those of quantum computingsimilar to the ones and zeros of binary codescientists have linked the information to photons, which can span up to 15 dimensions and are much faster.

All this has translation. The experience of the Vallés team follows a very clear line of practical application: their research aims to transmit information – such as a fingerprint or facial recognition – at high speed, efficiently and much more securely. Even the basics of its discovery could be useful in a hypothetical case. technological war where there are sensitive communications.

One of the researchers of the project in which Adam Vallès participated.

One of the researchers of the project in which Adam Vallès participated.

Image provided

However, teleportation as we imagine it in the movies, that which consists of transporting matter from one place to another, or of moving a human being between rooms, countries or planets, is not Not that easy. In fact, it is physically impossible with our current state of knowledge. First, why do it at speed of light involves violating the principles of theory of relativity. “Nothing can go faster than light and nothing can match its speed if it has mass,” explains Dr. Adam Vallés in conversation with SPANISH.

“To teleport a person, you would have to pick them up atomically, split them into a thin thread of atoms, entangle those atoms with photons, which you could send at the speed of light, and then those photons loaded with complex information could swap and couple it to other atoms. Then, if you had an atomic printer, you could rebuild it. It’s science fiction, because we don’t have atomic printers to make people. Then there is the problem of consciousness. How is the brain structured? ¿How consciousness is coded? “Starting by teleporting an apple would be simpler, but I still don’t see how we could rebuild it after disintegrating it.”

The scientist’s dream

Questions abound during the conversation, and Vallés keeps moving his hands and joining his fingers, simulating quantum entanglement, while explaining the workings of the subatomic mechanics that made his experiment possible. He, he admits, is telecommunications engineering “despite everything”, because in high school he wanted to study at INEF but he injured his back playing football. Finally, he decided to pursue a job that did not condition him. He found the way to follow on the board and the equations. Once graduated, his thesis director and collaborator on this latest project, Juan P. Torreslaunched him into the arms of quantum optics and obtained a doctorate in photonics.

“When I was little, I was always silenced because I asked so many questions, but deep down I was a normal boy who preferred to play football instead of going to class,” laughs Vallés. “In science lessons at school, he always asked me Why did the lightning go up and down if they told me the negative charges were on the earth?. But perhaps what made me fall in love with science was a physics professor who had us experiment with diffraction patterns. That is, you have a laser, you make a slit in a piece of paper and move the pointer closer until the grating is so small that diffraction occurs. I tried it one evening, squinting in front of a street lamp. It’s in those moments that you realize how things work!”

[Victoria Lareu, la investigadora del ‘CSI gallego’ que resuelve crímenes olvidados: así trabaja su escuadrón de científicos]

This curious young man who dreams of becoming an athlete is today part of the prestigious team at the Institute of Photonic Sciences, one of the research and training centers of optical science and technology leader in Europe. New encryption protocols are being studied to improve cybersecurity using quantum technology, remote sensing and industrial photonics techniques, as well as the development of optical telecommunications. They even work on military security programs.

“But I can’t talk about it,” says Vallés. “I can’t go any further. What I can say is that we are working on create fiber optic networks which connect government buildings, banks and other sensitive locations to ensure that there is no hacks” adds the doctor.

[Avi Loeb, el físico de Harvard que caza tecnología extraterrestre: “Hoy los medios habrían cancelado a Galileo”]

But leave the military secrets behind and the dreams come back hikes and the crux of Vallés’ investigation. He and his team successfully exchanged information between two parties without physically transporting thembut through the principles of Quantum mechanics, the science of the infinitely small. They did this through what is called “quantum entanglement‘, a phenomenon which allows two particles to be connected each other regardless of the distance. What happens to one involves a direct reaction in the state that defines both, so the other is affected.

“Traditionally, two entities communicate with each other by physically sending each other information, even in the quantum domain,” commented during the presentation of the study, Professor Andrew Forbes, one of the main researchers. “It is now possible to teleport information so that it never physically passes through the connection: a technology of”Star Trek‘to come true.”

Adam Vallès in his laboratory.

Adam Vallès in his laboratory.

Image provided

The novelty in this case is that to achieve quantum entanglement, the team of which Vallés is part used photonsthese particles carrying all forms of electromagnetic radiation, such as X-rays or gamma rays. In their experience, they act as “conductors” or intermediaries of information. And they use photons because they are able to transmit much more data than traditional two-dimensional quantum systems, such as those in quantum computing, because they have up to 15 dimensions.

“We managed to teleport complex images, like that of an iris. Instead of sending information from pixel to pixel, we manage to send everything in a packet of information at the same time,” explains Vallés. By transmitting information by photons, at the speed of light and with the data encoded in an alphabet of 15 dimensions superimposed between Yes (in the classic method there are ones and zeros), the transmission of information is more secure than through other channels, because it is much more difficult to to spy either to hack. “When someone wants to listen or spy because you will only be able to hear one dimension, which makes it safer. “When there are so many overlapping channels, it’s hard to know which one to listen to.”

[José Acain y Matt Gialich, los nuevos ‘mineros’ espaciales que extraerán de asteroides el platino que escaseará en la Tierra]

Hence this teleportation either teleportation information is extremely useful for a system like that of banks. “What we did in a new way is that this teleportation information can be applied directly to the banking sector.

Let’s say one of the photons is held by the bank and the other is sent to the customer. As there is quantum entanglement between the two sides, information from one side is automatically transferred to the other. Once a fingerprint is placed, for example, information from photon A is transmitted virtually automatically – at the speed of light – to photon B. This can enable information to be sent, such as recognition easy, efficient and safe.

The team that participated in the investigation.

The team that participated in the investigation.

The question is, are current cryptographic systems truly insecure and preventing this information from being susceptible to hacking? Adam Vallés assures us that yes, but warns that the technological threats of the future make it unpredictable to decipher what digital security will be like in a few years, when it will exist, let’s say, quantum hackers.

“Today it’s safe because we don’t have quantum computers this can solve what we currently have. We hope that classical computers will be safe for a few years, but what will happen when the quantum computer arrives? These types of computers can work with more complex algorithms, reducing the time needed to decipher factorizations by several orders of magnitude. Nowadays, banks are hesitant to invest in quantum cryptography because the current technology is secure. But that’s a “for now.”

By wbu4c

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