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Laser Systems Help Make Immense Performance Improvements for the Generation of Random Numbers for Encryption

Written by: Braeden Cullen


Encryption is the backbone of our ever-expanding digital world. Almost everything you interact with on a daily basis is encrypted, from encrypting your credit card details when you shop on Amazon to encrypting your book preferences from Barnes & Noble. Encryption is solely responsible for ensuring that malicious actors cannot access your most sensitive data, and several secure encryption standards play a critical role in maintaining a secure and efficient internet. Encryption is the process by which text is concealed to be only visible by intended individuals. The process of encryption is heavily dependent on the use of random numbers, and the inherent “randomness” of these numbers directly correlates to the effectiveness of these methods of encryption. Methods of generating random numbers are required for effective encryption and finding faster methods of generating these numbers has become increasingly important as more and more of our sensitive data is circulated all over the internet. Recently, a laser system was developed by a team of researchers from Yale University, Nanyang Technological University, NTU Singapore, and Trinity College Dublin that is able to create random numbers at blazing speeds that are over a hundred times faster than current methods and could. 


Importance of True Randomness

The importance of generating truly random numbers for encryption purposes cannot be understated. True random numbers are generated by observing some outside data, such as atmospheric noise, which is unpredictable in nature. The quality of random numbers directly influences the security strength of the system where the encryption algorithm is implemented. True randomness removes any predictability from encrypted data, which makes its decryption practically impossible. When data is encrypted using pseudo-random numbers, malicious individuals can potentially determine patterns in the data which could compromise the encrypted data. Pseudo-random numbers are numbers generated by computational algorithsm such as the linear congruential algorithm. One such example of the dangers of making use of pseudo-random numbers occurred during World War II, in which Japanese cipher machines generated these numbers. The use of psuedo-random numbers allowed cryptologists to identify underlying patterns in the random key values which allowed them to effectively break the cipher and gain access to extremely sensitive data. 

The generation of truly random numbers is quite difficult and computationally expensive, which often makes it difficult to apply to smaller applications.  With modern technology, computers are unable to generate truly random numbers. Instead, truly random numbers are generated by observing unpredictable physical phenomena such as the exact time the user entered keystrokes into a computer after 2 pm. This would be truly random because no attacker can possibly predict when you will make a keypress due to the unpredictability of people. 


What Makes the Team’s Discovery Unique

The discovery made by researchers from Yale University, Nanyang Technological University, NTU Singapore, and Trinity College Dublin is extremely promising and has the potential to rapidly increase the speed at which random numbers are generated. This team took a very different approach when compared to previous methods for producing truly random numbers. The system they developed makes use of a laser pointing inside an hourglass-shaped cavity to create random patterns. Due to the unpredictability of light ray reflection within a carefully shaped cavity, every pattern generated with this method would be unique. The computational system then analyzes this unpredictable pattern to produce a number. To confirm the unpredictability of this method, the team behind this technological advancement repeatedly compared generated patterns and discovered that no two patterns produced using this technique were the same. 



The method created by the team behind this complex new approach to true random number generation performs the same function as all true random number generators created until this date in time, but several benefits from using this method make it much more efficient than current techniques. The benefits of using this technique over previous strategies include massive speed increases (approximately 100 times faster than traditional methods), low operating costs, low cost of creation, and greatly improved “randomness.” The team responsible for this discovery is currently working on developing a compact chip outfitted with this technology to make it very easy to incorporate into large-scale distributed systems. The research that this team has done has the potential to completely revolutionize cryptography and could greatly improve our outdated methods of encryption.  


References and Sources

Laser system generates random numbers at ultrafast speeds. (2021, February 25). Retrieved March 25, 2021, from

The importance of true randomness in cryptography. (n.d.). Retrieved March 25, 2021, from

Can a Computer Generate a Truly Random Number? (n.d.). Retrieved March 25, 2021, from

How Computers Generate Random Numbers. (n.d.). Retrieved March 25, 2021, from


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