A team of physicists at the University of Science and Technology of China in Hefei has teleported the quantum state of a photon from a high-altitude ground station in Tibet to a satellite 1400km away.
The quantum state was received by China's Quantum Experiments at Space Scale (QUESS) satellite, which cost $100 million.
As Physics World reports, the process involves creating photons that are quantum-mechanically entangled for transmission.
This breakthrough could represent a significant step towards maintaining secure communications - essential to online banking and other fintech applications, for a start. The sophisticated encryption system used enables three key elements of secure communications to be guaranteed: the origin of the message, privacy en route, and the 'integrity' of the message (that the one received is the same as the one sent).
However, if quantum computing were to be fully developed, enabling much greater computation speeds, all current encryption systems could be broken. The answer to this would be a secure quantum communications system, such as Quantum Key Distribution.