A new laser-based random number generator is the fastest of its kind

By normal standards, the design for a new laser is a total dud. Rather than producing a crisp, steady beam, the laser casts a fuzzy patch of light full of randomly flickering speckles of brightness. But to a team of physicists, the laser’s messy output is its greatest asset. The chaotic fluctuations in the laser’s light can be translated into 254 trillion random digits per second — more than 100 times faster than other laser-powered random number generators, researchers report in the Feb. 26 Science.

“This is a marvelous step” toward more efficient random number generation, says Rajarshi Roy, a physicist at the University of Maryland in College Park

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