Light may be key to safeguarding secrets

Thursday, 10 October 2002, 11:13 AM EST

Advances in devices that emit the smallest possible amount of light may portend an era of guaranteed confidentiality in Digital Age communication, which until now has had about as much protection from prying eyes as a message on a post card.

Experiments in emitting one photon -- or packet -- of light at a time point to ways to thwart even the most determined hackers' attempts to eavesdrop on sensitive, private or other information not intended for public consumption, scientists said.

Communication signals carried by a single photon, as opposed to two or more, traveling through fiber-optic cables could provide an impregnable barrier against intruders bent on taking a look at what they are not meant to see, they said.

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