A team of researchers at California Institute of Technology (Caltech) has designed the world’s fastest camera that can capture a whopping 70 trillion frames in a second. For the sake of reference, the best smartphone cameras record slow motion with a little under 1000 frames per second while the commercial cameras can only top a few thousand frames per second.
The camera has been developed using compressed ultrafast spectral photography (CUSP) that functions by sending out extremely short pulses of laser light. Hence, the underlying mechanism is quite different from traditional cameras.
The team explained that CUSP works by splitting laser pulses into even shorter flashes. Every pulse is supposed to strike a specific specialized camera sensor. This process happens 70 trillion times a second which means, each laser pulse lasts for just one femtosecond (one quadrillionth of a second).
The team’s lead researcher Lihong Wang originally developed the technology in 2014. However, at that time, she only managed a speed of 100 billion frames per second.
Explaining her vision, Wang said,
We envision applications in a rich variety of extremely fast phenomena, such as ultrashort light propagation, wave propagation, nuclear fusion, photon transport in clouds and biological tissues, and fluorescent decay of biomolecules, among other things.
The technology posses as a massive breakthrough in the world of optics as 70 trillion frames are fast enough to capture light waves in motion. The technology will revolutionize everything from microscopes to telescopes.