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Light Particles May Hold the Keys to a Revolution in Encryption


This small device uses the random spin of light particles to generate a random number for use in a cryptographic key that can be used to securely transmit information between two parties.

Researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory have developed a device that can harness the random spin of light particles to product a random number for use in a cryptographic key.

Credit: Los Alamos National Laboratory

A device developed at the U.S. Energy Department's Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) harnesses the random spin of light particles to produce a random number for use in a cryptographic key that can be employed to securely transmit information between two parties.

"The security [of our system] is not based on mathematical complexity," says LANL's Raymond Newell. "Instead, it's based on the fundamental laws of physics and the way the universe has been put together at the quantum mechanical level."

The system is incorporated into USB flash drive-sized transceivers that can be linked to end points such as ATMs or secure laptops. LANL has licensed the technology to AlliedMinds subsidiary Whitewood Encryption Systems, which plans to develop a foolproof commercialized encryption system.

AlliedMinds intends to launch a quantum random number generator using the technology some time next year, with the goal of adding products to it that already operate transport layer security or secure sockets layer encryption.

"What we are developing here is very revolutionary and disruptive," says AlliedMinds' John Serafini. "We're bringing not only a very high level of security to gated communications, but we're doing it at exceptionally fast speeds and reducing, almost to nothing, the amount of latency in the system of encryption due to the key management system."

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