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PIC Hardware Could Boost Information Security

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Collaboration between Saitama University and NTT Communication Science Laboratories highlights the potential of a photonic integrated circuit-based random number generator to provide a small-footprint, high-performance solution for applications such as cryptography and seeding numerical simulations.

By James Tyrrell

Scientists in Japan have demonstrated random number generator (RNG) hardware based on a photonic integrated circuit (PIC) and a field programmable gate array (FPGA) electronic board. The team, which includes researchers from Saitama University and NTT Communication Science Laboratories, used the setup to generate 1-Tbit random bit sequences.

As the group explains, fast physical RNGs play a crucial role in information security to their non-reproducibility and non-periodicity. These properties can also benefit numerical simulations that require seeding.

Small footprint
PICs offer a promising way to shrink the size of the apparatus, which would otherwise consist of commercially available semiconductor lasers and photodetectors placed on a large optical table. PICs provide a stable operating platform and, as the team notes, are robust against air turbulence and temperature fluctuations.

The PIC comprises a photodetector (PD), a distributed-feedback (DFB) semiconductor laser, two optical semiconductor amplifiers, a passive waveguide, and an external mirror for optical feedback.

“The optical output from the DFB laser is reflected by the mirror and re-injected into the laser to produce chaotic intensity fluctuations," explain the researchers.

In the current study, the group achieved a maximum real-time generation rate of 21.1 Gb/s, noting that performance could be further improved by using a faster ADC, FPGA, and PCI Express bus for post-processing of the RNG and for data transmission to the computer.

Reference -
Opt. Express 25 6511-6523 (2017) [open access]


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