Imaging specialists have built what may be the world’s fastest camera, which can capture 10 trillion frames per second — making it possible to ‘freeze time’ to see light in extremely slow motion. This advancement may offer insight into undetectable secrets of the interactions between light and matter, according to scientists from California Institute of Technology in the US.
Using current imaging techniques, measurements taken with ultrashort laser pulses must be repeated many times, which is appropriate for some types of inert samples, but impossible for other more fragile ones. Setting the world record for real-time imaging speed, the camera called T-CUP can power a new generation of microscopes for biomedical, materials science, and other applications.
This camera represents a fundamental shift, making it possible to analyse interactions between light and matter at an unparalleled temporal resolution. The first time the camera was used, it broke new ground by capturing the temporal focusing of a single femtosecond laser pulse in real time. This process was recorded in 25 frames taken at an interval of 400 femtoseconds and detailed the light pulse’s shape, intensity, and angle of inclination. “It’s an achievement in itself, but we already see possibilities for increasing the speed to up to one quadrillion frames per second!” said Jinyang Liang, who was an engineer in COIL when the research was conducted.