We use random numbers for many applications in life – from global climate prediction to air traffic control to the lottery. However, true randomness is hard to achieve. Why? Most random number generation is created by computer algorithms, meaning that it really isn’t random since the process is still controlled by something designed by a programmer.
Researchers at the Australian National University (ANU) have not only found a viable solution, but they have also developed the world’s fastest random number generator by listening to vacuum noise. No, not your household vacuum cleaner-- this generator uses a sensitive light detector to detect virtual sub-atomic particles that spontaneously appear and disappear in a vacuum.
ANU researchers used NI technology, including NI LabVIEW system design software, an NI PXIe-1062Q real-time chassis, and an NI PXIe-7965R NI FlexRIO module, to build their Quantum Random Number Generator. Researchers use these tools primarily for data acquisition and processing.
“We chose NI products for their versatility and ease of programming – LabVIEW proved easier to use than FPGA programming languages like VHDL or Verilog,” said Dr. Thomas Symul, research fellow at ANU. “We were already using NI products in our Quantum Optics Lab,” Professor Ping Koy Lam adds, “which is further proof of the versatility of the technology.”
The random number generator is available online for anyone to use. In fact, it has already received several million hits. Now everyone has access to truly random numbers!