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New video camera captures 5 trillion frames every second

High-speed filming could offer view of rapid chemistry, physics phenomena

By
4:00am, June 13, 2017
frames of particles of light

SPEEDSTER  A video camera that can film the equivalent of 5 trillion images every second reaches such speeds with the help of an algorithm, capturing the movement of light particles (orange ball). 

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A new video camera, the fastest by far, has set a staggering speed record. It films 5 trillion frames (equivalent to 5 trillion still images) every second, blowing away the 100,000 frames per second of high-speed commercial cameras. The device could offer a peek at never-before-seen phenomena, such as the blazingly fast chemical reactions that drive explosions or combustion.

Researchers at Lund University in Sweden demonstrated the camera’s speediness by filming particles of light traveling a distance as thin as a sheet of paper, then slowing down the trillionth-of-a-second journey to watch it.

The gadget works by repeatedly flashing a laser at a subject, with each flash getting a unique code. The subject reflects the flashes, and those reflections are combined into a single image. Then, an algorithm separates the image into a video sequence based on the codes, the scientists report March 15 in Light: Science & Applications. A German company is developing the camera for laboratory use. It could be ready in about two years.

SPEED DEMON A new high-speed camera caught light particles on the move. In this video, the particles (orange ball) travel about a tenth of a millimeter, the thickness of a piece of paper. The speed shown is a trillion times slower than the time it takes for the actual event to happen. Lund University

Citations

A. Ehn et al. FRAME: femtosecond videography for atomic and molecular dynamics. Light: Science & Applications. Published online March 15, 2017. doi: 10.1038/lsa.2017.45.

Further Reading

E. Conover. Quantum counterfeiters might succeed. Science News Online, March 13, 2017.

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