“Beyond Science Fiction” –Chinese Quantum Physics Breakthrough Enables New Radar Capable of Detecting ‘Invisible’ Targets 100 Kilometers Distant

 

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The breakthrough relies on ‘spooky’ quantum-physics phenomenon of entanglement, dubbed by Albert Einstein as “spooky action at a distance." Until recently, the idea of quantum radar had remained largely confined to science fiction. China Electronics Technology Group Corporation (CETC), one of the “Top 10” military industry groups controlled directly by the central government, stunned physicists around the world this week when it announced it's the new radar system’s entangled photons had detected targets 100 kilometers away in a recent field test.


America’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has reportedly funded similar research and military suppliers such as Lockheed Martin are also developing quantum radar systems for combat purposes, according to media reports, but the progress of those military projects remains unknown.

In a statement posted on its website on Sunday, CETC said China’s first “single-photon quantum radar system” had “important military application values” because it used entangled photons to identify objects “invisible” to conventional radar systems.

Nanjing University physicist Professor Ma Xiaosong, who has studied quantum radar, said he had “not seen anything like this in an open report. The effective range reported by the international research community falls far below 100km,” he said. Elsewhere, a military radar researcher at a university in northwestern China said the actual range of the new radar could be even greater than that announced by CETC.“The figure in declassified documents is usually a tuned-down version of the real [performance],” he said. “The announcement has gone viral.”

 The image below shows a  U.S. Air Force B-2 Spirit Strategic stealth bomber flying over the Pacific Ocean.

 

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A quantum radar, generating a large number of entangled photon pairs and shooting one twin into the air, would be capable of receiving critical information about a target, including its shape, location, speed, temperature and even the chemical composition of its paint, from returning photons.

In theory, a quantum radar could detect a target’s composition, heading and speed even if managed to retrieve just one returning photon. It would be able to fish out the returning photon from the background noise because the link the photon shared with its twin would facilitate identification.

The photons had to maintain certain conditions – known as quantum states – such as upward or downward spin to remain entangled. But Ma said the quantum states could be lost due to disturbances in the environment, a phenomenon known as “decoherence”, which increased the risk of entanglement loss as the photons traveled through the air, thus limiting the effective range of quantum radar.

The CETC breakthrough benefited largely from the recent rapid development of single-photon detectors, which allowed researchers to capture returning photons with a high degree of efficiency.

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