A team of scientists have developed the world's fastest camera - capable of capturing an image every 163 nanoseconds, at a shutter speed of 440 trillionths of a second. That's around six times quicker than the best cameras currently on the market, so how did they do it?
Well, it all revolves around a technique known as serial time-encoded amplified microscopy (STEAM). Unlike conventional digital cameras that use charge-coupled devices, STEAM uses a spread of infrared light shone on the object to be photographed. By doing so, different parts of the object are are illuminated by different wavelengths of light. The light is then amplified and read out by a single photodetector.
Commenting on the creation, Keisuke Goda, an optoelectronic specialist at the University of California, Los Angeles, said:
"We have invented a new type of imaging technology that overcomes the fundamental limitation between sensitivity and speed. It could be especially useful for microscopy. On the meta-microscale, even slow-moving objects require a high temporary resolution, because your field of view is so small."
Despite the camera's incredible speed, however, it is currently limited to a resolution of around 2,500 pixels - far lower than the cameras built into most mobile phones. Goda claims the resolution can be improved, and UCLA professor Bahram Jalali states that the camera's next goal is to improve spatial resolution and provide crystal clear pictures of the inner structure of a cell.
The camera was demonstrated to the Nature journal and further details are available at nature.com.