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Geneva scientists focus on phone cameras for random number generation

Posted May 23, 2014
Geneva scientists focus on phone cameras for random number generation
A detector, or indeed each pixel of an image sensor, can be modelled as having 100% efficiency, but being pre- ceded by a lossy element (beamsplitter) with transmission. For each absorbed photon, the detector generates an electron. This charge is then converted into a voltage and amplified, before being digitised and sent to further processing, i.e. a randomness extraction stage. Credit: arXiv:1405.0435 [quant-ph]

A paper submitted on May 2 to arXiv begins its discussion by noting that quantum random number generators (QRNGs) can improve the security of cryptographic protocols by ensuring that generated keys cannot be predicted, The paper is the work of four scientists from the Group of Applied Physics at the University of Geneva. Bruno Sanguinetti, Anthony Martin, Hugo Zbinden and Nicolas Gisin have shown how random numbers can be extracted from an illuminated image sensor. This is a big deal, because with their approach the quest for truly random numbers does not have to be such a big deal. They wrote that “the cost, size, and power requirements of current QRNGs has prevented them from becoming widespread. In the meantime, the quality of the cameras integrated in mobile telephones has improved significantly, so that now they are sensitive to light at the few-photon level. We demonstrate how these can be used to generate random numbers of a quantum origin.”


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