Caltech Researchers Build Fastest Camera in the World, Shooting 10 Trillion Frames per Second

Published : Wednesday, October 17, 2018 | 5:39 AM

The trillion-frame-per-second compressed ultrafast photography system. Image courtesy INRS.

Scientists at the Caltech in Pasadena have developed what researchers are calling the fastest camera in the world, capable of frames capturing a “femtosecond,” which is one quadrillionth of a second.

Caltech researchers and scientists from the Institut National de la Recherche Scientifique in Quebec, Canada created the camera system, called the “T-CUP.”

The camera captures dynamic events with 100-femtosecond (fs) frame intervals in a single camera exposure.

According to the researchers, T-CUP has set a new record for real-time imaging speed, even capturing light in extremely slow motion.

Caltech professor, Lihong Wang, who is also the director of the Caltech Optical Imaging Laboratory (COIL) co-authored the study that developed the ultrafast camera.

“We knew that by using only a femtosecond streak camera, the image quality would be limited,” Wang said .“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 new imaging technique, the team started with compressed ultrafast photography (CUP), a method that it is capable of 100 billion fps. Impressive, but it’s still not fast enough to really capture what’s going on with ultrafast laser pulses, which occur on the scale of femtoseconds. The first time it was used, the camera broke new ground by capturing the temporal focusing of a single femtosecond laser pulse in real time.

Setting the world record for real-time imaging speed, T-CUP can fuel the next generation of microscopes for biomedical and other sciences. The camera symbolized a fundamental shift, making it possible to examine interactions between light and matter at an unparalleled temporal resolution

Last year, the record belonged to a Swedish team with a five-trillion-fps camera, which was itself an improvement of an earlier 4.4-trillion fps system. The new camera casually doubles the previous record-holder, which could make it easier to peer at the nanoscale world with greater “temporal” resolution.


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