In a groundbreaking leap forward for photographic technology, MIT has unveiled a revolutionary camera capable of capturing a staggering trillion frames per second. Contrasting this with the mere 24 frames per second of a traditional movie camera, this innovation has propelled scientists into a realm where they can now photograph the fastest phenomenon known to mankind: light itself.

The development of this cutting-edge camera, described as a milestone in the realm of scientific imaging, has unlocked the ability to freeze-frame events occurring in a mere nanosecond. Astonishingly, the camera can then extend this fleeting moment to a duration as long as twenty seconds, providing researchers with an unprecedented window into the behavior of light.

To grasp the magnitude of this advancement, consider the analogy provided by New York Times journalist John Markoff: if a bullet were to be tracked in a similar manner through a fluid medium, the resulting movie would span an astonishing three years.

Illustrating the capabilities of this extraordinary camera, experimental footage reveals light photons hurtling through water at an astounding speed of 600 million miles per hour. Given the inherent challenge of directly recording the movement of light, the camera employs a meticulous process involving millions of scans to meticulously recreate each image. Termed femto-photography, this technique has completely transformed our ability to observe and understand rapid phenomena.

Reflecting on the profound implications of this innovation, Andrea Velten, a key researcher involved in the project, notes that there is nothing in the vast expanse of the universe that appears swift to this remarkable camera.

By Impact Lab