R&D News: “In a development that could make the advanced form of secure communications known as quantum cryptography more practical, University of Michigan researchers have demonstrated a simpler, more efficient single-photon emitter that can be made using traditional semiconductor processing techniques. Single-photon emitters release one particle of light, or photon, at a time, as opposed to devices like lasers that release a stream of them. Single-photon emitters are essential for quantum cryptography, which keeps secrets safe by taking advantage of the so-called observer effect: The very act of an eavesdropper listening in jumbles the message. This is because in the quantum realm, observing a system always changes it. For quantum cryptography to work, it’s necessary to encode the messagewhich could be a bank password or a piece of military intelligence, for examplejust one photon at a time. That way, the sender and the recipient will know whether anyone has tampered with the message.”
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