A camera capable of visualizing the movement of light has been unveiled by a team of scientists in the US. The equipment captures images at a rate of roughly a trillion frames per second – or about 40 billion times faster than a UK television camera.
Direct recording of light is impossible at that speed, so the camera takes millions of repeated scans to recreate each image. The team said the technique could be used to understand ultrafast processes. The process has been dubbed femto-photography and has been detailed on the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Media Lab’s website.
To create the technique, the scientists adapted a “streak tube” – equipment used to take data readings from light pulses. It works in a similar fashion to the way pictures are created on traditional television cathode ray tubes, scanning one thin horizontal line at a time. The technique is only suitable for capturing an event that can be recreated exactly the same way multiple times.
It took about an hour to take enough shots to make a final video representing a fraction of a second of real time, leading one member of the team to dub the equipment “the world’s slowest fastest camera”. In addition to revealing new ways of seeing the world, the MIT scientists say the process could have some practical uses.
“Applications include industrial imaging to analyze faults and material properties, scientific imaging for understanding ultrafast processes and medical imaging to reconstruct sub-surface elements, ie ‘ultrasound with light,’” they say on their website.
Source: BBC News