Technology

World's Fastest Camera Takes 4.4 TRILLION Frames Per Second

August 14, 2014 | by Janet Fang

Photo credit: University of Tokyo

Researchers in Japan have developed a motion picture camera that can take 4.4 trillion frames per second -- making it the fastest camera in the world. They call their technique “sequentially timed all-optical mapping photography” (or STAMP), and the resolution is an impressive 450 x 450 pixels. The work was published in Nature Photonics this week. 

The current gold standard for high-speed, real-time recording utilizes a method known as the pump-probe process, Wired explains, where light is pumped at the subject and then probed for absorption. But to construct an image, it requires repetitive measurements. 

Developed by a large team led by University of Tokyo researchers, STAMP uses single-shot bursts to acquire images. Its optical shutter lets it capture images consecutively in less than one-trillionth of a second. Without the need for repetitive probing, STAMP offers results that up to 1,000 times faster than existing high-speed cameras. 

The team managed to photograph the conduction of heat, which is transmitted at a speed equivalent to one-sixth the velocity of light, Wall Street Journal reports

“It is a promising invention because these cameras can be utilized in various fields,” says study author Keisuke Goda from the University of Tokyo. In auto and semiconductor factories, the camera could help develop a better understanding of laser processing, he adds. And in the medical field, it could help advance ultrasonic therapy. 

In this schematic of STAMP from their paper, an ultrashort laser pulse is split by the temporal mapping device into a series of discrete “daughter” pulses in different spectral bands. The image-encoded daughter pulses are separated by the spatial mapping device and directed towards different areas of the image sensor. The data recorded by the image sensor are digitally processed on the computer to reconstruct a movie. 

Images: University of Tokyo via Wall Street Journal (top) & K. Nakagawa et al., Nature Photonics 2014

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