Photographs at the speed of light


MIT has developed a new camera that is able to take a trillion frames per second.

The new system relies on technology called a streak camera, in which the aperture of the camera is a narrow strip. The final image represents the time that the photos arrived, passing through the one-dimensional slice of space.

The new camera is meant to be used experiments where light passes through, or, on the light that certain chemicals emit, allowing scientists to observe how a chemical absorbs and emits light over time.

To produce these videos, Velten, Media Lab Associate Professor Ramesh Raskar and Moungi Bawendi, the Lester Wolfe Professor of Chemistry have to perform the experiment again and again, repositioning the camera to create the two-dimensional image.

One example would be light passing through a bottle. The amount of time that it takes for the light to scatter is about a billionth of a second, but to collect all the data needed for the video takes hours.

Raskar has called the new system “the world’s slowest fastest camera.” 

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