by Elton Gomes
Scientists have developed what could be the world’s fastest camera, as it can reportedly capture 10 trillion frames per second. What’s more is that the camera makes it possible to ‘freeze time’ so that light can be viewed in extremely slow motion.
The advanced move could offer some exceptional insight into the secrets of interactions between light and matter, scientists from California Institute of Technology said.
The study published on October 11, in the journal named Light: Science & Applications shows that the new system based on a femtosecond streak camera incorporated a data acquisition type, which is used in applications such as tomography.
How fast is the camera?
The camera builds on a technology called compressed ultrafast photography (CUP). CUP can lock down an impressive 100 billion frames per second. However, by simultaneously recording a static image and performing some tricky math, the researchers could reconstruct 10 trillion frames. The researchers have named the new technique as T-CUP.
The camera more than doubles the speed record set in 2015 by a camera that took 4.4 trillion shots per second. The researchers hope that the camera will be useful in biomedical and materials research. But they’re already focussing on beating their newly set record.
“It’s an achievement in itself,” said lead author Jinyang Liang in a press release, “but we already see possibilities for increasing the speed to up to one quadrillion frames per second!” Futurism reported. Speeds like that will definitely reveal insights into currently undetectable secrets of the interactions between light and matter.
In recent years, the junction between innovations in non-linear optics and imaging has set the stage for new and highly efficient methods wherein microscopic analysis can be conducted of dynamic phenomena in biology and physics. However, harnessing the potential of these methods requires a way in which the images can be recorded in real time.
Using current imaging techniques, measurements taken with ultrashort laser pulses must be repeated many times. This could be appropriate for some types of inert samples, but it is impossible for other more fragile ones.
“We knew that by using only a femtosecond streak camera, the image quality would be limited,” said Lihong Wang, Director of Caltech Optical Imaging Laboratory (COIL). “So to improve this, we added another camera that acquires a static image. Combined with the image acquired by the femtosecond streak camera, we can use what is called a Radon transformation to obtain high-quality images while recording ten trillion frames per second,” Wang said, as per a report in India Today.
Where can it be used
Setting the world record for real-time imaging speed, the camera can power a new generation of microscopes in the biomedical, materials science, and other fields. The inception of this camera indicates a fundamental shift, and it will now be possible to analyse interactions between light and matter at an unparalleled temporal resolution.
When the camera was used for the first time, it broke new ground by capturing the temporal focusing of a single femtosecond laser pulse in real time. This process was recorded in 25 frames taken at an interval of 400 femtoseconds and detailed the light pulse’s shape, intensity, and angle of inclination.
Elton Gomes is a staff writer at Qrius
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