We experimentally show that a random optical pulse train can be generated by modulating a bistable semiconductor ring laser. When the ring laser is switched from the monostable to the bistable regime, it randomly selects one of two different stable unidirectional lasing modes, clockwise or counterclockwise modes. Non-deterministic random pulse sequences are generated by driving the switch parameter, the injection current, with a periodic pulse signal. The origin of the nondeterministic randomness is the amplified spontaneous emission noise coupled to the counter-propagating lasing modes. The statistical randomness properties are optimized by adjusting the relative strength of amplified spontaneous emission noise sources for the two lasing modes. It is also shown that it is possible to generate optical pulse sequences which pass a standard suite of statistical randomness tests.
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