Article abstract

Nature Physics 3, 481 - 486 (2007)
Published online: 3 June 2007 | doi:10.1038/nphys629

Subject Categories: Techniques and instrumentation | Quantum physics | Information theory and computation

Entanglement-based quantum communication over 144 km

R. Ursin1, F. Tiefenbacher1,2, T. Schmitt-Manderbach3,4, H. Weier4, T. Scheidl1,2, M. Lindenthal2, B. Blauensteiner1, T. Jennewein2, J. Perdigues5, P. Trojek3,4, B. Ömer6, M. Fürst4, M. Meyenburg6, J. Rarity7, Z. Sodnik5, C. Barbieri8, H. Weinfurter3,4 & A. Zeilinger1,2

Quantum entanglement is the main resource to endow the field of quantum information processing with powers that exceed those of classical communication and computation. In view of applications such as quantum cryptography or quantum teleportation, extension of quantum-entanglement-based protocols to global distances is of considerable practical interest. Here we experimentally demonstrate entanglement-based quantum key distribution over 144 km. One photon is measured locally at the Canary Island of La Palma, whereas the other is sent over an optical free-space link to Tenerife, where the Optical Ground Station of the European Space Agency acts as the receiver. This exceeds previous free-space experiments by more than an order of magnitude in distance, and is an essential step towards future satellite-based quantum communication and experimental tests on quantum physics in space.

  1. Institute for Experimental Physics, University of Vienna, A-1090 Vienna, Austria
  2. Institute for Quantum Optics and Quantum Information, Austrian Academy of Sciences, A-1090 Vienna, Austria
  3. Max-Planck-Institut für Quantenoptik, D-85748 Garching, Germany
  4. Department für Physik, Ludwig-Maximilians University, D-80799 Munich, Germany
  5. European Space Agency, 2200 AG Noordwijk, The Netherlands
  6. Business Unit Quantum Technology, ARC Seibersdorf Research GmbH, A-1220 Vienna, Austria
  7. Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, University of Bristol, Bristol, BS8 1UB, UK
  8. Department of Astronomy, University of Padova, I-35122, Italy

Correspondence to: R. Ursin1 e-mail:

Correspondence to: A. Zeilinger1,2 e-mail:


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