This camera at 10 trillion fps can capture light in slow motion

This will open up new potential applications in different fields.

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Light is the fastest thing in the world, so trying to catch it moving is definitely something of a challenge. But, a new camera built by Caltech scientists pulls down a whopping 10 trillion frames per second, which means it can capture light as it travels along. Not just that, they have plans to make it a hundred times faster.

This camera at 10 trillion fps can capture light in slow motion

 

This rig isn't a result of just idle curiosity of Jinyang Liang and his colleagues, but understanding how light moves is imperative for many different fields. There are a lot of potential applications in physics, engineering, and medicine that depend on the behavior of light. But due to the small scales, it's hard to measure them.

This camera at 10 trillion fps can capture light in slow motion

If a device can replicate a pulse of light, then it will be easy to send one every millisecond but offset the camera's capture time by an even smaller fraction. By determining the travel time of the pulse, you'll get a result in the form of a movie that is indistinguishable in many ways from if you'd captured that first pulse at high speed.

This camera at 10 trillion fps can capture light in slow motion

 

This process is effective, but it wouldn't be possible to produce a pulse of light a million times the exact same way. Perhaps you need to see what happens when the light passes through a laser-etched lens that will be changed by the first pulse that strikes it. To perform this successfully, you'll have to record the first pulse in real time. That's where the T-CUP method comes into play. It combines a streak camera with a second static camera and a data collection method used in tomography.

This camera at 10 trillion fps can capture light in slow motion

This camera at 10 trillion fps can capture light in slow motion

This camera at 10 trillion fps can capture light in slow motion

"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," explained co-author of the study Lihong Wang.

At any rate, the method lets you take images at just 100 femtoseconds apart. However, there's no storage solution swift enough to write ten trillion datacubes per second to. So the system can only be kept running for a few frames in a row for now

"We already see possibilities for increasing the speed to up to one quadrillion (1015) frames per second!" enthused Liang in the press release.

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