Created the world’s fastest camera, able to “freeze time”

When you turn on the laser pointer it seems that the beam appears instantly. However, in reality the photons are “shot” out of it about the same as it happens with the water running from the tap or from a hose, just move the light particles so fast that the human eye is unable to notice this movement. A group of scientists from the California Institute of technology (USA) and Quebec University (Canada) have created the world’s fastest camera, capable of capturing up to 10 trillion frames per second – enough to “freeze time” and capture the photons of a laser beam moving through space.

In recent years, innovations in nonlinear optics and imaging, opened doors to new and highly effective methods of microscopic analysis of dynamic phenomena in biology and physics. However, the use of the potential of these methods require a method of recording images in real time with very short time resolution in a single exposure.

With the use of modern imaging modalities, measurements conducted using ultrashort laser pulses must be repeated many times, which is suitable for certain types of inert samples, but not for others more fragile. For example, a laser engraved glass can carry only one laser pulse, leaving less PS to record the results. In this case, the rendering method should be able to fix the process in real time.

The starting point for creating an incredible camera that will allow you to do and about which scientists reported in the journal Light: Science & Applications has become a technology of compressed ultrafast photography (CUP). At 100 billion frames per second this method was close, but did not meet the specifications required for integration of femtosecond lasers. To jump to a new level of scientists have developed a new system T-CUP. In based on femtosecond strip camera, which also includes the type of data collection used in applications such as tomography.

“We knew that using only femtosecond bandpass camera, the image quality is limited,” says Lihong Wang, the head of the laboratory of optical imaging from the California Institute of technology.

“To improve this, we added another camera, which acquires a static image. In conjunction with the image obtained by the camera femtosecond strip, we can use the so-called Radon transform to get high-quality images while recording ten trillion frames per second”.

The visualization of real-time temporal focusing for femtosecond laser pulse with shooting speed 2.5 trillion frames per second

Setting a world speed record image real time camera T-CUP may be the basis of microscopes and a new generation of Biomedicine, materials science and other applications. This camera represents a fundamental shift that allows them to analyze interaction between light and matter with unprecedented temporal resolution.

Scientists don’t plan to stop there

“This is a big step forward, but we can already see the potential to increase the speed shooting at up to 1 quadrillion frames per second,” — added scientists.

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