A team of 34 scientists from across China successfully precision-beamed a stream of photons from an experimental satellite across distances in excess of 1,200 kilometers (745 miles). This utilization of light particles, which were manipulated to contain coded information in their quantum states, such as their polarization, has the potential to create instantaneous and unhackable communications networks, the Wall Street Journal reports (paywall).
The Journal says that China’s government-funded push for secure communications technologies is likely a reaction to the 2013 leaks by Edward Snowden, which revealed the extent of U.S. spying on Chinese networks. Last week, the U.S. Department of Defense described China’s 2016 launch of the world’s first experimental quantum communications satellite as a “notable advance in cryptography research” that had “enormous prospects” for moving China toward more secure communications.
For more on this technology, see this article in Science, which features a video and graphic explainer of the experiment and the hurdles the scientists had to overcome.
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