Instantly teleporting people and objects from one planet to another is a staple of science fiction. Now, physicists at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor have taken a promising step toward teleporting at least some traits from atom to atom.
The new technique relies on a well-known but still mysterious phenomenon called entanglement, in which specific quantum traits of elementary particles become correlated, even at vast distances (SN: 12/8/01, p. 364: Gadgets from the Quantum Spookhouse). In this experiment, the researchers used a laser pulse to induce a cadmium ion to emit a photon whose polarization was entangled with the ion's spin, a magnetic quantum property.
Polarization is the orientation of a photon's electromagnetic field, and an ion's spin is akin to a top's motion.