M.I.T. Camera Captures Speed of Light: A Trillion-Frames-Per-Second

Think of it as the ulti­mate slow-motion movie cam­era. Researchers at M.I.T. have devel­oped an imag­ing sys­tem so fast it can trace the motion of puls­es of light as they trav­el through liq­uids and solids. To put it into per­spec­tive, writes John Markoff in The New York Times, “If a bul­let were tracked in the same fash­ion mov­ing through the same flu­id, the result­ing movie would last three years.”

The research was direct­ed by Ramesh Raskar of the Cam­era Cul­ture group at the M.I.T. Media Lab. In an abstract, the research team writes:

We have built an imag­ing solu­tion that allows us to visu­al­ize the prop­a­ga­tion of light. The effec­tive expo­sure time of each frame is two tril­lionths of a sec­ond and the resul­tant visu­al­iza­tion depicts the move­ment of light at rough­ly half a tril­lion frames per sec­ond. Direct record­ing of reflect­ed or scat­tered light at such a frame rate with suf­fi­cient bright­ness is near­ly impos­si­ble. We use an indi­rect ‘stro­bo­scop­ic’ method that records mil­lions of repeat­ed mea­sure­ments by care­ful scan­ning in time and view­points. Then we rearrange the data to cre­ate a ‘movie’ of a nanosec­ond long event.

You can learn more by watch­ing the video above by Melanie Gonick of the M.I.T. News Office, or by vis­it­ing the project web­site.

via Kot­tke

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Comments (3)
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  • M.Nouman says:

    Cam­era Tech­nol­o­gy Which Cap­tures With the Speed of Light:
    MT-Media lab researchers have devel­oped such imag­ing device that acquires the visu­al­ly graph­i­cal of trav­el­ing of light from a body. It com­pris­es one-tril­lion frames per sec­ond to cap­ture the image. In easy words, it has abil­i­ty of trans­fer­ring one –tril­lion data work per sec­ond.

  • Steve Gibson says:

    Film­ing a a tril­lion frames per sec­ond? Big deal ! When will they be able to do it in 3D so we can watch at the mul­ti­plex?

  • A. Nonymous says:

    “… now we can do ultra­sound with light” — Okay, it has been two years. Let’s see it!
    The raw laser images are mono­chro­mat­ic. Where do you get col­or? Ide­al­ly you need a red, a green, and a blue laser to get RGB col­or. (Not guar­an­teed.) Sub­tleties miss­ing from your col­or sequences sug­gest that you are using a sin­gle laser image sequence and col­oriz­ing it by map­ping it onto the orig­i­nal pho­to­graph.

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