The world’s fastest camera was developed by a Japanese research team and with a single shot method it can acquire images that were nearly impossible to attain previously. It can collect 4.4 trillion frames per second.
Previous technology for high speed cameras required repeated measurements to construct an image. Repeated measurement technology, however, can only be used for relatively simple and easily reproducible events. It could not be used for probabilistic or complicated events like explosions, quantum-mechanical processes, protein folding or enzyme reactions. The previous high speed cameras have used a process called the pump-probe process in which light is pumped from the camera toward the object and then it probes where the light was absorbed in order to create the image.
The new camera technology uses very short bursts of light and does not require repetitive measurements. It uses optical mapping of the spatial profile of the object over time. The technology that the new camera employs is called motion picture femtophotography, which is an all optical system that uses single-shot bursts of light. It is said to have an optical shutter. It allows real time visualization of very fast phenomena that are non-repetitive and not easy to reproduce. Whereas cameras that use mechanical or electronic shutters capture images consecutively in one-billionth of a second, the new camera technology can attain images consecutively in not even one-trillionth of a second.
The images that are created are considered to be of high quality at 450 by 450 pixels and this new camera is considered to be about 1,000 times as fast as the previous fastest camera. It has been reported that the camera was used to successfully capture an image of a wave of heat. Heat travels at a rate of one-sixth the speed of light.
The research team members that created this very fast camera are from the University of Tokyo and Keio University in Japan. They have called their camera system Sequentially Timed All-optical Mapping Photography and used the acronym STAMP. It took the team of 12 scientists about three years to develop and test the new camera technology. A report on the camera was published in the journal Nature Photonics.
The current camera size is about a square meter, which could be considered as large. The research team is planning on working on making the camera smaller in the future. The expectations of the research team is there will likely be many applications for this new camera technology in medical fields, chemistry and physics. One possibility for this fastest camera in the world is to take images of laser beams when in use, which would allow better guidance of the laser beam.
As high speed cameras have been invented and photographic processes have evolved, humans have been treated to amazing images that allowed viewing of objects moving and unfurling in real time that otherwise happen much too fast for our natural vision. A lizard sticking out its tongue to catch a fly, a drop of water falling on a surface of water making a crown of splash, a bullet shot through a playing card, a glass light bulb breaking and an egg bursting are images that have been published for the enjoyment of all. It is definitely going to be amazing to observe the images that are sure to come from the latest world’s fastest camera.
By Margaret Lutze