Scientists at the Lund University in Sweden have created what they say is the fastest camera ever, able to capture an astonishing 5 trillion frames a second – fast enough to capture light itself.
Publishing their findings in Light: Science and Applications, the method involved exposing an object to be filmed to brief flashes of laser light, which were reflected by the object. Each pulse was given a unique code, with an algorithm then turning the coded images into one picture and a video sequence.
Instead of taking images one by one in a sequence, like other high-speed cameras, this took four separate images per frame. The researchers called the technology Frequency Recognition Algorithm for Multiple Exposures (FRAME).
Using this method, which required complicated laboratory equipment consisting of mirrors and lenses, the researchers could film events as short as 0.2 trillionths of a second, the fastest ever possible. This is fast enough to actually visualize the movement of light.
You can see this in the video below, which shows the movement of light in femtoseconds – one millionth of a billionth of a second – across the equivalent distance of a thickness of paper.
“Today, the only way to visualise such rapid events is to photograph still images of the process,” Elias Kristensson, a co-author of the study, said in a statement. “You then have to attempt to repeat identical experiments to provide several still images which can later be edited into a movie. The problem with this approach is that it is highly unlikely that a process will be identical if you repeat the experiment.”
The researchers from Lund University said their breakthrough could be useful in many areas including chemistry, physics, and biology. We’re sure there are plenty of uses for this technology, to be honest. Who doesn’t want to capture light itself moving?