31 August 2017 N-state random switching based on quantum tunnelling
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Abstract
In this work, we show how the hysteretic behaviour of resonant tunnelling diodes (RTDs) can be exploited for new functionalities. In particular, the RTDs exhibit a stochastic 2-state switching mechanism that could be useful for random number generation and cryptographic applications. This behaviour can be scaled to N-bit switching, by connecting various RTDs in series. The InGaAs/AlAs RTDs used in our experiments display very sharp negative differential resistance (NDR) peaks at room temperature which show hysteresis cycles that, rather than having a fixed switching threshold, show a probability distribution about a central value. We propose to use this intrinsic uncertainty emerging from the quantum nature of the RTDs as a source of randomness. We show that a combination of two RTDs in series results in devices with three-state outputs and discuss the possibility of scaling to N-state devices by subsequent series connections of RTDs, which we demonstrate for the up to the 4-state case.

In this work, we suggest using that the intrinsic uncertainty in the conduction paths of resonant tunnelling diodes can behave as a source of randomness that can be integrated into current electronics to produce on-chip true random number generators. The N-shaped I-V characteristic of RTDs results in a two-level random voltage output when driven with current pulse trains. Electrical characterisation and randomness testing of the devices was conducted in order to determine the validity of the true randomness assumption. Based on the results obtained for the single RTD case, we suggest the possibility of using multi-well devices to generate N-state random switching devices for their use in random number generation or multi-valued logic devices.
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Ramón Bernardo Gavito, Ramón Bernardo Gavito, Fernando Jiménez Urbanos, Fernando Jiménez Urbanos, Jonathan Roberts, Jonathan Roberts, James Sexton, James Sexton, Benjamin Astbury, Benjamin Astbury, Hamzah Shokeir, Hamzah Shokeir, Thomas McGrath, Thomas McGrath, Yasir J. Noori, Yasir J. Noori, Christopher S. Woodhead, Christopher S. Woodhead, Mohamed Missous, Mohamed Missous, Utz Roedig, Utz Roedig, Robert J. Young, Robert J. Young, } "N-state random switching based on quantum tunnelling", Proc. SPIE 10354, Nanoengineering: Fabrication, Properties, Optics, and Devices XIV, 103541T (31 August 2017); doi: 10.1117/12.2273298; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2273298
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