High-speed cameras are certainly useful for slow motion, but they can also find their application in science. Elias Kristensson and Andreas Ehn, researchers at Swedish Lund University, have revealed the world’s fastest high-speed camera. It’s able to capture as many as five trillion frames per second, fast enough to visualize the movement of light.
This camera is called FRAME (Frequency Recognition Algorithm for Multiple Exposures) and is developed at Lund University. The most astonishing feat is that it can make “light practically stand still” and capture events as short as 0.2 trillionths of a second. 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.
The world’s fastest camera is of course different than your average digital camera. It doesn’t capture the scene for a full second, considering that the events it records are over in less than a picosecond. Instead, the camera flashes a laser at the subject, with each pulse being a unique “code”. Every frame it captures contains four separate images, which are later decoded and separated with an encryption key.
The researchers intend to use this new technology to gain better insight into many of the extremely rapid processes that occur in nature. “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”.
The technology is currently being commercialized by a German company, and it’s estimated that it’ll be ready for widespread use within about two years.