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Quantum Random Number Generators: cheaper, faster and more secure

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - QRANGE (Quantum Random Number Generators: cheaper, faster and more secure)

Reporting period: 2018-10-01 to 2020-03-31

The generation of random numbers plays a crucial role in many applications impacting society,
in particular in cryptography, games and computer simulations. It is of fundamental importance
that the generated numbers are truly unpredictable, as any deviation may adversely affect
modelling or jeopardise security. Notably, recent breaches of cryptographic protocols have
exploited weaknesses in the random number generation.
In this context, schemes exploiting the inherent randomness of quantum physics have been
extensively investigated. Quantum random number generators (QRNG) are now commercially
available, which arguably represents one of the most successful developments of quantum
technologies so far. QRANGE pushes the QRNG technology further, allowing for a wide range
of commercial applications of QRNG. We are developing three different prototypes, which are
cheaper, faster and more secure than existing devices: a) A fully integrated low-cost QRNG
based on standard CMOS technology with a target cost of the order of 1€ for a large scale
production. b) A high-speed phase-diffusion scheme based on the interference of laser pulses
with random phase relationship featuring bit rates of up to 10Gb/s. c) Inspired by device
independent schemes, a self-testing QRNG, which allows for a continuous estimation of the
generated entropy, with few assumptions on the devices. Moreover, we make considerable
theoretical effort for modelling the devices, designing efficient randomness extractors and
studying new semi device-independent concepts. Last but not least, we work together with the
relevant institutions towards a full certification scheme of QRNG devices compliant with the
highest security standards.
This project addresses many key points in the ramp-up phase of the Quantum Technologies
Flagship and is well-aligned with its vision and objectives, especially in terms of taking
quantum technologies from the laboratory to industry with concrete prototype applications and
marketable products.
The main goal of the project is to produce prototypes of QRNGs which can be used in practice
in different applications. In order to make this happen, in this first half of the project we have
focused efforts on laying the ground work to achieve the project’s final goals:
- We specified the applications, use-cases and markets for the three different types of
QRNG we are going to develop. We know now which requirements the QRNGs have
to fulfil to address these applications.
- We worked on a certification framework in collaboration with entities like the ITU
Telecommunication Standardization Sector and the BSI (German Federal Office for
Information Security). The final goal are standards and classification schemes that
recognise the conceptual difference of QRNG compared to other random number
- We modelled in detail the three different types of QRNG. This allows us to assess the
entropy that can be extracted from the raw data and guarantee the quality of the finally
generated random numbers at the output. In the case of the self-testing approach, the
entropy can be certified in real time.
- We validated the technologies for the construction of the three different types of QRNG.
We see how to produce the cheap integrated chips for IoT applications and we know
how to implement the self-testing solution in integrated optics as well. Finally, we have
found a practical solution to achieve the targeted 10 Gb/s rate for the high-speed QRNG.
QRANGE’s ambition is closely aligned with the QT Flagship’s vision of scientific leadership,
competitive quantum industry and making Europe a dynamic and attractive region for
innovative research, business and investments in QT. Our progress on different levels go
significantly beyond the state of the art:
- Economic and industrial impact: The systematic understanding of use-cases and the
progress in standardisation of QRNG mean a true value for the commercial exploitation
of this technology. It will extend the current market share of QRNGs by increasing the
awareness and the acceptance of this technology. This might lead to the first mass
application of quantum technology. In the second half of the project, these insights will
be communicated more widely. In particular, relevant stakeholders like the project’s
Advisory Board will be addressed. We believe that our activities will lead to a higher
acceptance of QRNGs at the end of the project.
- Technical innovation: The QRNG chip is designed and testing is planned in the second
half of the project, which will result in the world’s first fully integrated QRNG chip for
the mass market. The high-speed QRNG prototype is progressing as planned and will
be potentially the world’s first industrialised quantum entropy source with 10+ Gbit/s
throughput. Finally, a very promising approach for the self-testing quantum entropy
source based on integrated circuits could significantly reduce the cost of the devices and
facilitate large scale production. In summary, we are confident that we develop and
industrialise QRNG products that can compete on the RNG market.
- Theoretical concepts: The theorists in this project have a double role. On the one hand,
they work on next-generation concepts to optimise QRNGs to improve their
functionality, the security, or reduce the complexity and hence the costs. In this area,
we saw progress in optimising self-testing and device-independent schemes. On the
other hand, current implementations are supported with more detailed modelling and
understanding of the fundamental difference between classical and quantum RNGs.
With this, the circle is closed, as this leads to strong arguments for the dialogue with
(future) business partners, standardisation institutes and other stakeholders.