July 16, 2009

New encryption algorithm created

U.S. scientists say they have developed a new algorithm that may advance data encryption capabilities.

Researchers led by Princeton University Assistant Professor Jason Fleischer developed the so-called reversing algorithm after using a special optical device called a non-linear crystal, rather than an ordinary lens, to capture an image.

Every image is made up of a collection of light waves, and a lens bends (refracts) the waves towards a detector, the scientists explained. In contrast, in the non-linear material, the waves talk to each other and interact, generating new waves and distorting themselves in the process.

The mixing is a form of physical (versus numerical) encryption, but it would be useless if the process could not be reversed, said Fleischer. Our algorithm provides a way of undoing the image and thus recovering the original signal.

The reversing algorithm also allows the researchers to capture information that is lost in other imaging systems. Fleischer and his team are now searching for new materials to increase the level of wave mixing for stronger, faster interactions at lower light levels.

The study was funded by the U.S. Air Force Office of Scientific Research.