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Researchers Use Tiny Magnetic Swirls to Generate True Random Numbers

skyrmion representation, illustration

Magnetic swirls called skyrmions fluctuate randomly in size, a behavior that can be harnessed to generate true random numbers.

Credit: Xiao lab / Brown University

A group of Brown University physicists has developed a technique that can potentially generate millions of random digits per second by harnessing the behavior of skyrmions — tiny magnetic anomalies that arise in certain two-dimensional materials.

Their research, published in Nature Communications, reveals previously unexplored dynamics of single skyrmions, the researchers say. Discovered around a half-decade ago, skyrmions have sparked interest in physics as a path toward next-generation computing devices that take advantage of the magnetic properties of particles — a field known as spintronics.  

"There has been a lot of research into the global dynamics of skyrmions, using their movements as a basis for performing computations," says Gang Xiao, chair of the Department of Physics at Brown and senior author of the research. "But in this work, we show that purely random fluctuations in the size of skyrmions can be useful as well. In this case, we show that we can use those fluctuations to generate random numbers, potentially as many as 10 million digits per second."

From Brown University
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