High frame rate photography is more than just a fun way to see your dog make an ass of himself, it’s also an essential part of various kinds of research. Now, researchers at the Lund University in Sweden have revealed what they’re calling the fastest high-speed camera ever developed, capable of capturing even light itself in slow motion.
The camera is capable of capturing a whopping 5 trillion frames per second. That means it can even visualize events that take place in just 0.2 trillionths of a second and slow them down in playback. The researchers, Elias Kristensson and Andreas Ehn, have called the new technology FRAME—or Frequency Recognition Algorithm for Multiple Exposures.
In their ambitious test, the research team used the camera to film a group of photons (or light particles) travelling a miniscule distance – the thickness of a piece of paper. Unlike the human eye, which would see nothing that passes at 1.079 billion kilometers per hour, the camera was able to capture the photons at such a high rate that they appeared to be hardly moving at all
How does the world’s fastest camera work?
To achieve this the camera is vastly different from how traditional cameras work, in that it doesn’t snap 5 trillion pictures in one second. Even if that speed were achieved in a digital camera, you’d run out of storage long before then. Instead the camera works by flashing a laser at the subject, and recording a unique code for each pulse. In this way, the camera can store four separate images in each video frame, using the codes to later decrypt and separate them into a proper sequence.
Kristensson and Ehn themselves developed FRAME as part of their research into combustion engines, but the technology has tremendous potential when applied to a variety of fields, from telecommunications to electronics. The two have partnered with a German company to build their prototype and estimate a series of units will be available to research teams within two years.