Teleportation is the transfer of physical objects from one place to another, distant place, without transferring the physical particles that constitute the original object. By most definitions, the object in its original location is either destroyed or rendered otherwise unrecognizable and unable to function. This limits teleportation devices to transportation roles only, incapable of duplicating or manufacturing objects. Although teleportation devices were until recently considered by the scientific community to stay confined to the realm of science fiction, recent understandings of quantum mechanics have led to the development of successful teleportation techniques.
The current state of the art in teleportation technology, having successfully moved relatively large masses relatively large distances, relies on the uncertainty principle and quantum entanglement phenomenon. The uncertainty principle states that the more information that is extracted from an object, the more the object is malformed. The point in which the object is so malformed as to prevent further scanning occurs well before enough information is extracted to produce an exact copy. Quantum entanglement allows the quantum state of one particle to be predicted based upon the quantum state of another particle that had once been in contact with it. Thus, a teleportation sending station and receiving station can be prepared by bringing two such particles into contact, and then bringing one to the sending station, and the other to the receiving station. The particle at the sending station is then scanned along with the object to be teleported. The scanning process malforms both the particle and the object. The scanned information is then sent to the receiving station, which then performs the reverse process to raw material together with the second particle. As the second particle is currently in the same quantum state as the first particle, together with the original object, the finished product is identical to the original object.
The first objects to be successfully teleported were photons, or light particles. These massless particles are ideal for such experimentation as the have relatively few quantum states and readily entangle with other photons. As early as 1998 experiments have proven with over 75% accuracy that the quantum state of a photon can be imparted on a distant photon by way of an intermediate photon that is quantumly entangled with the target photon. While this method could theoretically be used to transmit data, it would not permit the movement of tangible objects. Six years later, two separate research teams had independently succeeded in teleporting collections of atoms. Although the atoms themselves had been teleported, their respective arrangement had not been preserved. Thus, the current state of the art does not permit the teleportation of large or complex structures. However, new developments in technology, as well as a more thorough understanding of quantum mechanics, may help researchers overcome that obstacle.
Science Technology Terminology Questions