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It’s time to celebrate another first in the field of quantum physics: scientists have been able to ‘teleport’ a qutrit, or a piece of quantum information based on three states, opening up a whole host of new possibilities for quantum computing and communication.

Up until now, quantum teleportation has only been managed with qubits, albeit over impressively long distances. A new proof-of-concept study suggests future quantum networks will be able to carry much more data and with less interference than we thought.

If you’re new to the idea of qutrits, first let’s take a step back. Simply put, the small data units we know as bits in classical computing can be in one of two states: a 0 or a 1. But in quantum computing, we have the qubit, which can be both a 0 and 1 at the same time (known as superposition).

Now, the qutrit has the same relationship to the trit, adding superposition to the classical states that can be represented as 0, 1 or 2. A qutrit can be all of these at the same time, making it another jump forward in terms of (for example) computer processing power or the amount of information that can be sent at once.

It also adds a level of complexity for quantum computing researchers.

Now that we have a grasp on qutrits, what’s quantum teleportation? Well, it’s getting quantum information from one place to another, through a phenomenon known as quantum entanglement, or “spooky action at a distance”, as Albert Einstein called it. That’s where two quantum particles (or groups of particles) are interlinked, so that one reveals the properties of the other, no matter how far apart they are in physical terms.

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