AGH UST is the only Polish university involved in ATTRACT-funded project

170 proposals selected for the European Programme ATTRACT will receive funding, enabling implementation of ideas targeting ground-breaking innovations in sensing, imaging and data acquisition technologies. The AGH University of Science and Technology is the only Polish university to be awarded an ATTRACT grant and as a member of an international consortium will co-ordinate the project called ‘In-silico quantum generation of random bit streams (Random Power)’. The AGH UST team is headed by Professor Wojciech Kucewicz, PhD, MTech of the Department of Electronics at the Faculty of Computer Science, Electronics and Telecommunications. The other consortium partners are the University of Insubria and Nuclear Instruments (both Italian) and  US-based Quantum Financial Advisors.

ATTRACT is a pioneering programme bringing together European research and development  centres as well as industrial partners involved in construction and  operation of telescopes, particle accelerators and other capital-intensive research instruments. The programme helps the most promising ventures to enter global markets by attracting large companies, experienced venture capitalists as well as individual investors. The programme connects various European research and technology institutions, including European Southern Observatory (ESO), the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) and the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL). The main goal of ATTRACT is to create a completely new European model of open innovation, which may become a driving force behind creating jobs and social prosperity. The project has received 17m euros under the EU Framework Programme Horizon 2020.  Each of the selected proposals will be awarded the sum of 100 000 euros as a preliminary support for the development of a given idea. The authors of projects which have received ATTRACT funding will be given one year to demonstrate its appeal to prospective investors. In Autumn 2020 their authors will present the outcomes during a conference to be held in Brussels.

Description of the project

Unpredictability is usually perceived with a sense of uneasiness and discomfort. However, when it comes to secure our data, information, posts, pictures and whatever flows to (or from) the internet about us, protection relies on unpredictability. The impossibility for an eavesdropper or a hacker to break the walls protecting what sits on the net about us depends on secret keys, protocols, cyphering algorithms namely the art & science of cryptography. Keys, essential to lock&unlock the doors, must be randomly generated. And true randomness implies unpredictability.

Random Power is addressing the development of a True Random Bit Generator for key generation and beyond and aims at providing a secure, cost effective, robust and tiny device for the IoT, automotive and mobile markets. It is based on a silicon device, with all of the advantages connected to the micro-electronics advances; the source of randomness is endogenous and this is a genuine paradigm shift with respect to existing devices, providing simplification and robustness of the system; last but not least, it is based on the quantum properties of matter and this guarantees an intrinsic and irreducible unpredictability of the events at the base of the random bit stream generation.

The genesis of the project is an example of ingenuity and serendipity and can be tracked to the effort of understanding random events affecting the response of state-of-the-art detectors of light with single photon sensitivity. The principle, protected by a patent application, has been qualified according to protocols developed by the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology, using high level laboratory equipment.

Thanks to the ATTRACT project, it will exit the “comfort zone” of well-equipped research laboratories to design, produce and qualify a self-consistent device able to deliver million random bits per second to feed security protocols.