Select your localized edition:

Close ×

More Ways to Connect

Discover one of our 28 local entrepreneurial communities »

Be the first to know as we launch in new countries and markets around the globe.

Interested in bringing MIT Technology Review to your local market?

MIT Technology ReviewMIT Technology Review - logo


Now Available: Innovators Under 35 2013 See The 2013 List »

Apostolos Argyris, 30

Disguising data as noise

University of Athens

Apostolos Argyris has joined theoretical mathematics with solid-state physics to demonstrate a novel, nearly unbreakable encryption method. As a graduate student at the University of Athens, the Thessaloníki native implemented the first long-distance demonstration of "chaotic synchronization": using a pair of laser diodes, amplifiers, a mirror, and more than 120 kilometers of underground fiber, he disguised a message as white noise and still retrieved it clearly on the other end.

The feat is a demonstration of the "butterfly effect," the founding tenet of chaos theory. The theory holds that in sufficiently complex systems, even a slight adjustment of initial variables will produce a dramatically different result; conversely, if you can replicate input conditions precisely, you should be able to replicate the output, even if that output appears random at first glance. Argyris applied this principle by combining a digital message with a chaotic, rapidly fluctuating laser signal; the chaotic signal’s irregular shape masks the message and allows it to evade standard eavesdropping methods. An identically generated chaotic signal on the receiving end cancels out the first, leaving only the original data.

The technique currently delivers data at one gigabit per second (good enough for voice and video encryption). Argyris hopes to raise that to 10 gigabits per second by 2009. He doesn't see chaotic encryption replacing software encryption, but it could soon offer an extra layer of protection for the most sensitive communications.


--Sam M. Williams

2006 TR35 Winners

Apostolos Argyris

Disguising data as noise

Prithwish Basu

His passion is finding ways to connect mobile devices, sensors, and robots directly--without the need for a base station. It's called "ad hoc" networking.

Seth Coe-Sullivan

Making screens crystal clear

Stefan Duma

Better virtual  crash dummies

Christina Galitsky

Simple technologies save energy and lives

Ram K. Krishnamurthy

Cooler computers

Jane McGonigal

Designing games with new realities

Michael Raab

Making fuel ethanol more cheaply

Anand Raghunathan

Making mobile secure

Sumeet Singh

Faster defenses against computer viruses

Paris Smaragdis

Teaching machines to listen

Alice Ting

Lighting cellular movies


More Innovators Under 35: