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Boffins at UCSB (University of California, Santa Barbara) have made a breakthrough in quantum cryptography, and put together a gadget that is capable of emitting a single photon.

The device is being heralded as an important step towards secure quantum communications since it will render any signal invulnerable to snooping.

According to LaboratoryNetwork, at the moment quantum communications depends on two photon systems. These can be encrypted, but eavesdroppers can't be detected.

A communications system using a single photon would be effectively immune to eavesdropping. Any interception and attempt to decode the signal would disrupt the signal and alert the receiver to the interference.

The difficulty with implementing a system based on a single photon protocol is finding a device that will reliably generate single photons.

The researchers, who originally reported their work in the December 22 issue of Science magazine, claims to have done just that. ®

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