Observing the behavior of photons is a tricky business because light is fundamentally one of the fastest entities prevailing in the universe, so it definitely requires some doing to capture it on film.
For this purpose researchers at the University of Washington have developed a new camera system that might just be the thing that propels us forward into understanding more about light. They have claimed that it’s the world’s fastest 2D receive only camera which can achieve rates of 100 billion frames per second. Now that is some serious speed. In order to achieve this feat it employs a technique which its creators term it as Compressed Ultrafast Photography CUP.
Study leader Dr. Lihong Wang, Gene K. Beare Distinguished Professor of Biomedical Engineering stated that this was the first time humans are able to observe light pulses on the go. He was hopeful while saying that “since this technique has propelled us by leaps and bounds, we have now entered an age where further discoveries pertaining to this field specifically are just around the corner, and I hope that CUP will enable new discoveries in science, ones that we can’t even anticipate yet.”
The technology developed consists of multiple devices namely microscopes and telescopes used in conjunction with lenses in order to capture events. At the heart of the whole system lies an existing piece of technology, called a streak camera which in essence is an ultrafast device that monitors the intensity variation of a pulse of light with time. But this device is functional only in one dimension, so Wang and his team members had to add their own algorithms and components in order to make it into a 2D camera.