WHEN TIME FREEZES

At 10 tril­lion frames per sec­ond, this new cam­era seem­ingly freezes time as you watch a dy­namic phe­nom­e­non in su­per slow mo­tion.

Business Today - - THE BREAKOUT ZONE -

THE CAM­ERAS WE USE in ev­ery­day life, espe­cially the smart­phone cam­eras, are quite slow. An av­er­age movie cam­era cap­tures footage at 25 frames per sec­ond (fps). But there are also ul­tra­fast cam­eras which can cap­ture frames by the tril­lion. A light-cap­tur­ing cam­era from MIT, which has been around since 2001, can shoot one tril­lion frames per sec­ond. Of course, it is too fast for the hu­man eye to reg­is­ter as we stop at about 1,000 fps.

Now a group of re­searchers from INRS (un­der the Univer­sity of Que­bec) and Cal­i­for­nia In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy have made a fur­ther break­through and de­vel­oped the world’s fastest cam­era that can shoot 10 tril­lion (1013) frames a sec­ond. That mas­sive frame rate means any dy­namic phe­nom­e­non, even an ul­tra­short pulse of light, can be cap­tured in ex­tremely slow mo­tion. As a re­sult, time seems to ‘freeze’ and ev­ery minute de­tail can be watched which would not have been pos­si­ble oth­er­wise.

In a pa­per pub­lished in Light: Sci­ence and Ap­pli­ca­tions, the re­searchers have de­scribed the tricky physics and math­e­mat­ics be­hind the con­cept. Sim­ply put, the new cam­era called T-CUP is a huge improve­ment on the ex­ist­ing imag­ing tech­nique known as com­pressed ul­tra­fast pho­tog­ra­phy or CUP. Although CUP can cap­ture 100 bil­lion frames per sec­ond, its per­for­mance falls short when it comes to record­ing a dy­namic phe­nom­e­non at a very short tem­po­ral res­o­lu­tion (the time it takes to cap­ture a sin­gle frame), in a sin­gle ex­po­sure. As of now, mea­sure­ments taken with ul­tra­short laser pulses have to be re­peated sev­eral times to ob­tain that kind of re­sults, and it may not be too ac­cu­rate in case of frag­ile sam­ples. In con­trast, the T-CUP pro­vides sin­gle-shot, fem­tosec­ond (10-15 sec­ond) imag­ing in real time and the frame in­ter­vals could be as low as 100 femto-sec­onds in a sin­gle ex­po­sure. Ac­cord­ing to the re­search team, the first time it was used, T-CUP man­aged to cap­ture the tem­po­ral fo­cussing (a time-re­lated image fo­cussing con­cept) of a sin­gle fem­tosec­ond laser pulse and de­tailed its shape, in­ten­sity and an­gle of in­cli­na­tion. The team has also put to­gether a fem­tosec­ond streak cam­era and a cam­era for ob­tain­ing static images to im­prove image qual­ity. Their next tar­get is to in­crease the speed to up to one quadrillion (1015) frames per sec­ond.

The re­searchers say that the new cam­era rep­re­sents a fun­da­men­tal shift, mak­ing it pos­si­ble to an­a­lyse in­ter­ac­tions between light and mat­ter at an un­par­al­leled tem­po­ral res­o­lu­tion. It will also help cre­ate a new gen­er­a­tion of microscopes and other equip­ment re­quired for bio­med­i­cal, ma­te­ri­als sci­ence and other ap­pli­ca­tions.

THE CAM­ERA WILL HELP CRE­ATE A NEW GEN­ER­A­TION OF MICROSCOPES AND OTHER EQUIP­MENT RE­QUIRED FOR BIO­MED­I­CAL, MA­TE­RI­ALS SCI­ENCE AND OTHER AP­PLI­CA­TIONS

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