Skip to main content

The World's Fastest Camera

Forget high-speed cameras capturing 100 000 images per second. A research group at Lund University in Sweden has developed a camera that can film at a rate equivalent to five trillion images per second, or events as short as 0.2 trillionths of a second. This is faster than has previously been possible.
posted onJuly 2, 2017
nocomment

The new super-fast film camera will therefore be able to capture incredibly rapid processes in chemistry, physics, biology and biomedicine, that so far have not been caught on film. To illustrate the technology, the researchers have successfully filmed how light – a collection of photons – travels a distance corresponding to the thickness of a paper. In reality, it only takes a picosecond, but on film the process has been slowed down by a trillion times.

Currently, high-speed cameras capture images one by one in a sequence. The new technology is based on an innovative algorithm, and instead captures several coded images in one picture. It then sorts them into a video sequence afterwards.

In short, the method involves exposing what you are filming (for example a chemical reaction) to light in the form of laser flashes where each light pulse is given a unique code. The object reflects the light flashes which merge into the single photograph. They are subsequently separated using an encryption key.

The film camera is initially intended to be used by researchers who literally want to gain better insight into many of the extremely rapid processes that occur in nature. Many take place on a picosecond and femtosecond scale, which is unbelievably fast – the number of femtoseconds in one second is significantly larger than the number of seconds in a person’s life-time.

“This does not apply to all processes in nature, but quite a few, for example, explosions, plasma flashes, turbulent combustion, brain activity in animals and chemical reactions. We are now able to film such extremely short processes”, says Elias Kristensson. “In the long term, the technology can also be used by industry and others”.

Elias Kristensson and Andreas Ehn
Elias Kristensson and Andreas Ehn (Photo: Kennet Ruona)

For the researchers themselves, however, the greatest benefit of this technology is not that they set a new speed record, but that they are now able to film how specific substances change in the same process.

“Today, the only way to visualise such rapid events is to photograph still images of the process. 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”, he says.

Most days, Elias Kristensson and Andreas Ehn conduct research on combustion – an area which is known to be difficult and complicated to study. The ultimate purpose of this basic research is to make next-generation car engines, gas turbines and boilers cleaner and more fuel-efficient. Combustion is controlled by a number of ultra-fast processes at the molecular level, which can now be captured on film.

For example, the researchers will study the chemistry of plasma discharges, the lifetime of quantum states in combustion environments and in biological tissue, as well as how chemical reactions are initiated. In the autumn, there will be more film material available.

About the camera
The researchers call the technology FRAME – Frequency Recognition Algorithm for Multiple Exposures.

A regular camera with a flash uses regular light, but in this case the researchers use “coded” light flashes, as a form of encryption. Every time a coded light flash hits the object – for example, a chemical reaction in a burning flame – the object emits an image signal (response) with the exact same coding. The following light flashes all have different codes, and the image signals are captured in one single photograph. These coded image signals are subsequently separated using an encryption key on the computer.

A German company has already developed a prototype of the technology, which means that within an estimated two years more people will be able to use it.

line black 1300
line black 1300

SPRING ESCAPE IDEAS

By Newsroom

Kyoto is the iconic tourist spot of Japan and its best season is spring in April. All over the city clouds of beautiful cherry blossoms bloom and draw visitors from every corner of Japan and the world; every evening the trees are lit and give a truly enchanting display.  
 

By Newsroom

Sorrento, perched picturesquely on a plateau above the sea with spectacular views over the Bay of Naples, has been a popular tourist destination for almost two centuries. This beautiful seaside community makes a great base for visiting the Amalfi Coast, Capri and Pompeii. 

By Newsroom

April isn’t actually spring in Argentina — it’s fall. Which happens to be harvest season for the hundreds of vineyards that call Mendoza home. Every March through May, the region attracts more than 70,000 wine lovers to witness the gathering of the grapes in one of Argentina’s most prolific winemaking zones. 

By Newsroom

Maramures is probably the most wonderful hidden secret of Romania. Like walking into a fairy tale or stepping back into medieval Europe.  Maramures has the most UNESCO monuments in the country. But besides the monuments, you’ll love the welcoming people, scenery and gastronomy. 
 

By Newsroom

Madagascar, a huge island nation off the southeast coast of Africa, is home to thousands of animal species – like lemurs – found nowhere else, plus rainforests, beaches and reefs. Miles and miles of stunning coastline wrap around the island.  Turtles visit the beaches, dolphins and whales appear in its waters revelling in the crystal clear water of this wonderland. 

By Newsroom

With over 14 miles of idyllic beaches, a range of modern resorts and accommodations, excellent shopping, dining and nightlife, Cancun is one of Mexico`s most popular destinations and one which keeps visitors coming back again and again.

By Newsroom

The most popular island holiday destination in the Indonesian archipelago is home to an ancient culture that's known for its warm hospitality.Exotic temples and palaces set against stunning natural backdrops 

01.

Kyoto, Japan: The cherry blossoms create one of the most spectacular spring sights in the city

02.

Sorrento,Italy: Cobblestone streets, small, rocky beaches and picture-perfect views of Mount Vesuvius and Naples 

03.

Mendoza, Argentina: Loved for its tree-lined streets, sunny days, Malbec wine and restaurants and spas

04.

Maramures, Romania: Widely regarded as the country's most traditional region

05.

Madagascar, Africa: One of the most jaw-dropping and fascinating wildlife hotspots

06.

Cancun, Mexico: Surrounded by clear Caribbean waters it has much more to offer than its party-town reputation might suggest.

07.

Bali, Indonesia: Stunning beaches, scenic rice paddies and deep sense of spirituality draw millions of foreign visitors