SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA — Researchers from the University of Southern California (USC) in the United States have used laser pulses to design a new type of data encryption tool that is more powerful and energy efficient for cyber security, according to a study published Thursday.
The researchers from the USC Viterbi School of Engineering have invented a new method to create a frequency comb — a tool that expands laser application potential by converting a single wavelength into multiple wavelengths, which has effectively produced tens to hundreds of lasers from a single laser.
Their findings were published in the journal Science Advances.
Conventional data transmission by optical fiber, which travels through thousands of kilometers underneath the world’s oceans, is at great risk of being intercepted.
However, the USC researchers have replaced traditional material such as silicon that is widely used for data transmission systems with carbon-based materials or organic molecules.
They attached only a single layer of a 25-atom organic molecule to the surface of a laser so as to create a new frequency comb that is merely the size of a hair and more importantly requires 1,000 times less power to operate.
The researchers solved the challenge of directly interfacing organic optical materials with lasers, and their approach can be applied to a wide range of organic materials and laser types, said Andrea M. Armani, a professor at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering.
The frequency comb generators can serve as entangled photon generators in quantum encryption, which ensures the two wavelengths of the secondary pair of the laser appear at exactly the same time as the primary laser when a data signal is transmitted via entangled pairs of photons.
The new method invented by the USC researchers will become an important part of quantum encryption, which will not only protect people’s sensitive information in the future, but also be used to improve the detection of cancer biomarkers in the health sector.