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A fast and robust quantum random number generator with a self-contained integrated photonic randomness core


Generating random numbers securely and at a high rate is important for information technology. Integrated photonics could potentially be used to create mass-manufactured quantum random number generators. However, the development of robust and scalable approaches that are compatible with industrial deployment is challenging. Here, we report a fast quantum random number generator based on a photonic integrated circuit directly embedded on an electronic platform. We manufacture eight boards, which harvest randomness from an optical entropy core and process and distribute it in real time. We benchmark performance over a week of continuous gigahertz operation. We deploy our quantum random number generator in a quantum key distribution system and, despite operating in an uncontrolled environment, the physical randomness features minimal variations over 2.9 million histograms collected over 38 days. We also use a security model with our quantum random number generator to adjust the rate of the randomness content generated and demonstrate secure generation at 2 Gbit s−1.

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Fig. 1: Implementation of a deployable OEC with integrated photonics.
Fig. 2: Experimental set-up for the characterization of the OEC and OEC bandwidth.
Fig. 3: Performance of the OEC with different modulation formats.
Fig. 4: Long-term stability of a QRNG deployed for 38 days and of five QRNGs operating simultaneously for a week.
Fig. 5: One-week entropy characterization and test of the security preservation function.

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Data availability

The datasets generated during and/or analysed during the current study are available from the corresponding authors on reasonable request.


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This work was supported by the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF): 106374-49229 Assurance of Quantum Random Number Generators (AQuRand). V.L. acknowledges financial support from the EPSRC (EP/S513635/1) and Toshiba Europe Ltd.

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Authors and Affiliations



D.G.M., T.K.P., T.R., Z.Y. and A.J.S. conceived the experiment. T.K.P. and D.G.M. designed the PICs. D.G.M. developed the OEC packaging. D.G.M., P.R.S., T.K.P. and V.L. characterized the OECs. M.S. and D.G.M. developed the QRNG electronics. D.G.M., N.W., M.L. and P.R.S. developed the security model. P.R.S. set the QRNGs for the week-long test. D.G.M., N.W. and P.R.S. analysed the data. J.F.D. installed the QRNG and operated the quantum key distribution systems. T.R., I.D.M. and P.R.S. assisted with the OEC and QRNG software. D.G.M. wrote the manuscript with contributions from all the authors. D.G.M., Z.Y. and A.J.S. supervised the project.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Davide G. Marangon, Peter R. Smith or Andrew J. Shields.

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Nature Electronics thanks Nicoló Leone and the other, anonymous, reviewer(s) for their contribution to the peer review of this work.

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Extended data

Extended Data Table 1 Average min-entropies for the 5 boards during the 7 days of continuous operation

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Supplementary Information

Supplementary Figs. 1–5 and Discussion.

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Marangon, D.G., Smith, P.R., Walk, N. et al. A fast and robust quantum random number generator with a self-contained integrated photonic randomness core. Nat Electron 7, 396–404 (2024).

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