World's fastest camera reaches 4.37 trillion frames per second

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A team of scientists from The University of Tokyo and Keio University in Japan has developed a camera that can run at more than 1 trillion frames per second, a world record in burst-mode imaging.

The imaging technique, called sequentially timed all-optical mapping photography (STAMP), has been used in the laboratory for imaging of ultrafast events in real time, including laser ablation (at one frame per 15.3 picoseconds, equivalent to 65.4 billion frames per second) and phonon dynamics (at one frame per 229 femtoseconds, equivalent to 4.37 trillion frames per second).

STAMP is based on mapping the target’s spatial profile over time onto a burst-stream of photographs optically. The technique has practical utility for studying a diverse range of complex dynamical processes in photochemistry, plasma physics, condensed matter physics, semiconductor physics, and ultrasound therapy.

‘This is the world’s fastest camera in burst mode,’ said first author Keiichi Nakagawa at The University of Tokyo, who conducted the research as a graduate student. He added ‘Our camera is useful for imaging of all kinds of fast phenomena that have been difficult to see with conventional cameras.’

In 2011, a team a MIT demonstrated a streak camera capable of capturing images at 1 trillion frames per second, but this camera goes beyond this in terms of speed. 

The speed of conventional high-speed cameras is limited by the processing power of mechanical and electrical components. The existing gold-standard for imaging with fine time resolution requires that events be reproducible for repetitive measurements. Therefore, the conventional method cannot be used to capture complex, non-repetitive, dynamic events on time scales of less than 1 nanosecond. In contrast, the STAMP camera enables real-time visualisation of fast events in which conventional technology falls short. This technique is expected to become a powerful tool for studying a diverse range of complex dynamical processes. 

‘We are currently trying with the camera to tackle a variety of unsolved problems in science and medicine,’ said Professor Keisuke Goda at The University of Tokyo, who supervised the research together with Professor Ichiro Sakuma (The University of Tokyo) and Professor Fumihiko Kannari (Keio University). The STAMP camera is available for both macroscopic and microscopic imaging.

The research was published in Nature Photonics

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Further information

The University of Tokyo

Keio University

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