Atoms tend to stay put, but light is always on the move. Physicists would like to exploit those qualities to make information-processing devices in which atoms store information and light shuttles it around (SN: 4/3/99, p. 220). In a step toward that goal, researchers have transmitted quantum states between atoms and light.
Such a transfer of properties is called teleportation. "This is the first case of successful teleportation between objects of a different nature"—namely, photons of energy and atoms of matter, says study coauthor Ignacio Cirac of the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics in Garching, Germany.