MIT Develops A 'Trillion Frames Per Second' Camera

December 13, 2011


Seen here giving the camera their best serious but cool, MIT researchers Andreas Velten and Ramesh Raskar pose in front of a Coke bottle filled with highlighter fluid or something. I don't know, physics and I don't always get along. That's how I'm able to levitate. Just kidding, it's magnets and wires. Anyway, these two studs have developed a means of capturing shots at 1/1,000,000,000,000th of a second, enabling photography of the movement of light itself. SU-SU-SU-SCIENCE!:

Basically, nanosecond laser pulses are shone on an object. In front of the camera is a narrow slit, so that only a thin slice of the laser light can be seen at one time -- the technical name for this device is a "streak camera." The laser pulses, with very complex timing circuitry, are then picked up by an array of 500 sensors in the camera -- but only one "scan line" at a time (thanks to the narrow slit). Using mirrors, the camera's angle of view is changed over time until each of these one-dimensional slices can be built up into a complete 2D image. This process, which takes about an hour, has led to one of its creators -- Ramesh Raskar -- to dub this trillion-FPS wonder "the world's slowest fastest camera."

There's a video of the two creators explaining the technology after the jump that I was *this close* to being able to wrap my head around. Get it? Because my head is long like a jump rope. One time I even tripped a purse-snatcher, then used my head to tie him to a light pole until the cops arrived. True story 100% lies.

Hit the jump and get your laser light photography show on.

MIT slows down light with trillion-frames-per-second video camera [extremetech]
MIT builds camera that can capture at the speed of light [engadget]

Thanks to FasterThanLightJJ and The Brett, who once watched a hummingbird flap its wings at a trillion frames-per-second and it took 5 hours.

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