Fastest imaging system in the world is demonstrated

 30th Apr 2009

Researchers have demonstrated the fastest camera in the world, which has a shutter speed of just a half a billionth of a second.

The imaging system, which is being called, 'serial time-encoded amplified imaging' or ‘Steam,’ has been reported on in the Nature journal. They claim the system can take over six million images in one second.

The imaging system is to be used to catch random, fast-moving events such as communications between neurons and its flashbulb is a laser pulse that is stretched in time and dispersed in space and picked up electronically. These ‘supercontinuum’ laser pulses are what makes the technology possible.

The pulses are a millionth of a millionth of a second long and feature many different colours, which are spread into an ordered '2D rainbow' and this then illuminates the subject.

The subject then reflects part of this rainbow, which travels back along the path it took initially. The range of colours included in the reflection then gives spatial information about the sample because the rainbow’s colours are usually spread so uniformly.

Bahram Jalali, of UCLA says, “when the 2-D rainbow reflects from the object, the image is copied onto the colour spectrum of the pulse."