Technology

We have the new fastest camera in the world. One capable of taking 156.3 billion photos per second

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By parm maan

When we talk about slow motion, we're usually talking about 120 FPS (frames per second). There are higher numbers like 480, 960 or crazy things like what Huawei's Mate 30 Pro did with its 7680fps. Very high performance, but not as high as the new fastest camera in the world. 156.3 billion photos per second.

SCARF. That's the name of this unique device, which looks like an ordinary disassembled camera. Abbreviations of Real-time femtophotography with coded apertureThis camera can “capture transient absorption in a semiconductor and ultrafast demagnetization of a metal alloy,” explain its creators, who see huge potential in disciplines such as physics, biology and chemistry.

This is what the SCARF camera looks like Image: INRS

Challenge. The research at the Énergie Matériaux Telecommunications Research Center of INRS (Canada) is led by Professor Jinyang Liang. As the group elaborates, the problem with the current high-speed camera approach is that “it involved sequentially capturing frames one at a time. They acquired data through short, repetitive measurements and then stitched it together to create a movie that the camera reconstructed. observed movement”. In the words of the project manager.


“This approach can only be applied to inert samples or phenomena that occur exactly the same way every time. Fragile samples, let alone non-repetitive phenomena or ultrafast phenomena, cannot be observed with this method (…) For example, phenomena such as femtosecond laser ablation, the interaction of shock waves with living cells, and optical chaos cannot be studied in this way. “.

In this regard, Professor Liang developed T-CUP (Trillion-frame-per-second compressed ultrafast photography), a technology capable of capturing 10 billion images per second, years ago. Later in 2020, the researcher managed to jump up to 70 billion FPS. Now a step forward has been made.

156.3 billion images. SCARF promises much, much more. According to researchers, it is capable of taking 156,300,000,000,000 pictures per second. This allows this camera to capture events that occur within femtoseconds. A femtosecond is one billionth of a second. To give you an idea, there are as many femtoseconds in one second as there are seconds in 100 million years.

If light travels at approximately 300,000 kilometers per second, this camera will be able to take about 500 photos of the light in the time it takes to travel one millimeter.

Scheme of work of SCARF Image: nature

How does it work? To oversimplify it, the system emits a “chirped” laser pulse, meaning that each wavelength has a different speed. Each wavelength has its own corresponding time stamp, and when taking a photo, the wavelengths corresponding to red will hit the subject first, followed by orange, green, blue, and violet. Because the photographed event happens so quickly (femtoseconds, remember), as each new “color” arrives, the changes in the laser pulse are recorded, which then bounces and deflects between various components until it reaches the CCD sensor. The information is processed and the image is created.

Possible applications:. Curiosities aside, the truth is that this camera has important uses. It can be used to capture non-reproducible or difficult-to-produce phenomena, such as the mechanism of shock waves in living cells or matter, which can aid in the development of new drugs. We can also think about the implications it has for other disciplines such as physics. In fact, two companies, Axis Photonique and Few-Cycle, are already working on Liang to develop commercial versions.

Images |: INRS, nature

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