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Education and Innovation in Embedded Systems Design

USI Università della Svizzera italiana, USI Faculty of Informatics, Advanced Learning and Research Institute USI Università della Svizzera italiana USI Faculty of Informatics USI Advanced Learning and Research Institute
TitleSingle-Photon Avalanche Diodes (SPADs) for quantum random number generators and beyond
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsRegazzoni, F., S. Burri, D. Stucki, Y. Maruyama, C. Bruschini, and E. Charbon
Conference Name19th Asia and South Pacific Design Automation Conference (ASP-DAC) 2014
Date Published01/2014
Conference LocationSingapore
ISBN Number978-1-4799-2816-3
Keywordsquantum physics, random number generators, SPAD

Single-Photon Avalanche Diodes (SPADs) are solid-state photo-detectors capable of detecting single photons by exploiting the avalanche effect that occurs in the breakdown of a p-n junction biased above breakdown voltage. By this effect, a SPAD translates an incoming photon to a macroscopic current pulse. These devices are currently used for building medical devices characterized by a very high time resolution. An appealing application of SPAD is to use them as a basic block for building the entropy source of true random number generators. In this paper we focus on such application, and we explore the design challenges behind the realization of a quantum random number generator based on a massively parallel array of SPADs. The matrix under investigation comprises 512×128 independent cells that convert photons onto a raw bit-stream, which, as ensured by the properties of quantum physics, is characterized by a very high level of randomness. The sequences are read out in a 128-bit parallel bus, concatenated, and pipelined onto a de-biasing filter. Subsequently, we fabricated the proposed chip using a standard CMOS process. Our results, achieved on the manufactured device and coupling two matrices, show that our architecture can reach up to 5 Gbit/s while consuming 25pJ/bit, thus demonstrating scalability and performance for any random number generators based on SPADs