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Quantum Random Number Generator Made Small Enough for Smartphones

Category: Science & Technology
Posted: 01:46PM

While you might not see them, random numbers are used in many systems we benefit from every day, including the encryption systems that protect our online purchases and bank withdrawals. Modern random number generators are not perfectly random though, but new generators that utilize quantum mechanics can be completely random. Now researchers have successfully made a quantum random number generator small enough and fast enough to be usable in mobile devices, as reported in Optica.

The reason modern random number generators are not perfectly random is because the numbers are generated by algorithms or physical processes, and with enough information about the source, one can guess the numbers. Quantum mechanical phenomena, however, are immune to this as the processes involved cannot be predicted regardless of how much information one may have. This is why researchers have been working to create quantum-based random number generators, but so far those that have been made are large and not very fast. This new generator though, is based on a photonic integrated circuit (PIC) measuring just six millimeters by two millimeters and is able to operate in the area of gigabits per second. At that speed it can be used for real-time data encryption, protecting phone and video calls.

By demonstrating such a device can be made with PIC technology, chances are other researchers will act to make even better versions. Eventually these devices will likely move into commercial products to provide better security as well as scientific equipment for simulating biological interactions and nuclear reactions, or making stock market predictions.

Source: The Optical Society

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