The best devices available so far shoot on the scale of thousands of frame per second and produce mesmerizing slow-motion videos. Recently, researchers at Caltech and INRS have created the world’s fastest camera which can capture picture at 10 trillion frames per second. This is fast enough to capture the interactions carried out between light and matter at the nanoscale. The record for being the world’s fastest camera belonged to a Swedish team previously who developed a camera which was capable of capturing images at 5 trillion fps.
The new camera doubles the previous record holder which makes it easier to capture the world at nanoscale level and great resolution. For the latest imaging technique, the team started with Compressed Ultrafast Photography (CUP). It is a method which is capable of capturing images at 100 billion fps. This is fast, however, still not fast enough to capture ultrafast laser pulses. These occur on a scale of femtoseconds, and a femtosecond is one quadrillionth of a second.
The team built the camera by combining a femtosecond streak camera and a static camera. It ran through a data acquisition technique called as Radon transformation. This system was dubbed T-CUP. Lihong Wang, co-lead of the study said, “We knew that by using only a femtosecond streak camera, the image quality would be limited. 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.”
For the second test, the camera captured a single femtosecond pulse of laser light and recorded 25 images which were 400 femtoseconds apart. The team was able to see the changes in the light pulse’s shape, intensity, and angle of inclination, in much slower motion as before. This can help to see even shorter events which will help to describe the new secrets of physics and biology. The team plans to do further research and develop equipment which can cross this limit as well. Jinyang Liang, the lead author of the study, said, “It’s an achievement in itself. But we already see possibilities for increasing the speed to up to one quadrillion frames per second!”