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NTT boffins reckon they’ve out-randomed current quantum random number generators

And managed to pull it at speed, despite the menace of quantum noise

Researchers at the Japan's Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation (NTT) claim they've invented the first high-speed quantum random number generator built on realistic quantum devices.

The RNG is detailed in an announcement [PDF] and a paper in Nature Communications.

“In this work, by developing an efficient method for certifying randomness (a collaborative work with the researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology) and by measuring the arrival time of an optical pulse with time-bin encoding we show that every 0.1 seconds a block of 8192 quantum-safe random bits can be generated, enabling low-latency high-rate performance," the announcement explains. "Further, our scheme guarantees the practical security with realistic quantum devices."

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Which matters because quantum computers are hard to scale because observing things in the quantum realm creates "noise" that has to be cancelled out to get computations done reliably. "Realistic" devices try account for the noise rather than take more drastic measures. The result is a less-complex, and therefore more practical, device.

This new invention is said to deliver random numbers without increasing latency. This matters because computers need random numbers for all manner of encryption and other tasks, and would rather not wait for a new entropy nugget to arrive.

The higher transmission rate quantum random number generator is well suited for zero-knowledge proofs, election audits, and other things requiring continuously operating, high-security blocks of fresh, certifiable, public random bits. Such a stream of random numbers should translate into better encryption keys, which will be appreciated as quantum computers are expected to cut through current classical crypto schemes like a knife through butter.

In the future, the researchers hope to shrink the quantum random number generator to a level making it feasible to fabricate compact products, eventually creating communication networks with high security enhanced by quantum technologies. ®

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