Just as Scotty beamed up Captain Kirk with a teleporter machine capable of disembodied transport, the scientists have transferred a particle of light from one part of their laboratory to another without it crossing the physical medium in between.
The international team of scientists - from Britain, America and Denmark - said it was the first time anyone has shown that teleportation was a practical reality rather than merely a theoretical possibility.
"In our case the distance was only a metre, but the scheme would work just as well over much larger distances," said Samuel Braunstein, lecturer in electrical engineering at the University of Wales in Bangor.
"It's exceedingly early days and asking whether it could ever be practical to transport people is like asking the first person who used an abacus whether they could dream of the day when computers could be used in medicine," Dr Braunstein said.
The experiment proved the theoretical notion of quantum teleportation proposed in 1993 by computer scientists who suggested that the physical description of an object's quantum state could be teleported in order to reconstruct the object in another location.
Jeff Kimble of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena described in the current issue of Science the experiment where the quantum state of a light particle is transferred using a concept called "quantum entanglement".
The high degree of fidelity - the precision with which the transfer was made - proves that teleportation can no longer be relegated to science fiction, the scientists believe.Reuse content