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In a "major step" toward practical quantum networking, researchers at the University of Calgary have successfully demonstrated the teleportation of a light particle's properties between their lab and the city's downtown area, six kilometres away.

"What is remarkable about this is that this information transfer happens in what we call a disembodied manner," said physics professor Wolfgang Tittel, whose team's work was published this week in the journal Nature Photonics.

"Our transfer happens without any need for an object to move between these two particles."

Their research relies on advanced lasers, a dedicated fibre-optic line, and light-detecting sensors that must be kept incredibly cold because they won't work at temperatures above –272 C.

It also relies on the increasingly well-known but still baffling phenomenon of quantum entanglement.

The concept is so bizarre that a dubious Albert Einstein famously dubbed it "spooky action at a distance" in the 1940s, as he described what he saw as flaws in the emerging theory of quantum mechanics.

But today, an increasing body of evidence has confirmed the most counterintuitive predictions of quantum theory, including the strange behaviour of "entangled" particles.

These are pairs of particles that are fundamentally linked, such that the properties of each one is intrinsically tied up in the other and actions affecting one particle have an immediate effect on the other, no matter how far apart the particles are.

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Coincidentally, in the same edition of the same journal, an independent team of Chinese researchers published the results of their own demonstration  — one that used a slightly different setup but employed the same principles and confirmed quantum teleportation using a fibre-optic network over a span of 12 kilometres.

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