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MIT developed camera shoots one-trillion frames per second allowing visualization of light

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Camera capable of one-trillion frames per secondIn case you missed it, MIT researchers have created a digital camera capable of one-trillion frames per second. The speed of the camera is so fast, it can watch light unfold itself in slow motion. The camera is part high-tech and part technique.

The camera utilizes an array of 500 sensors to capture light at a rate of one-trillion times per second. The system uses a Titanium Sapphire laser pulse as a flash.

“The system relies on a recent technology called a streak camera, deployed in a totally unexpected way. The aperture of the streak camera is a narrow slit. Particles of light — photons — enter the camera through the slit and pass through an electric field that deflects them in a direction perpendicular to the slit. Because the electric field is changing very rapidly, it deflects late-arriving photons more than it does early-arriving ones. The image produced by the camera is thus two-dimensional, but only one of the dimensions — the one corresponding to the direction of the slit — is spatial. The other dimension, corresponding to the degree of deflection, is time. The image thus represents the time of arrival of photons passing through a one-dimensional slice of space.”

There are limitations however. Objects being photographed must remain absolutely still because the camera does not capture the entire scene at once but rather captures a strip of data which is post processed into a two-dimensional video. Mirrors can be used in photographic passes to add depth perception to the object being photographed.

The video below explains how it works:

 

Visualizing the speed of light

 

In this video, you can watch a laser light pass through a plastic bottle.

 

Laser pulse passing through a plastic bottle