New high speed camera captures light as it travels

Yeah, you read that right. MIT, home to many smart people with wacky – yet brilliant – ideas, has created a camera that shoots at 1,000,000,000 frames per second. One Trillion.  It’s fast enough to capture the travel of photons through a space.

In truth, it’s not a single camera, but one lens that allows the image to be processed by an array of 500 sensors. These sensors are working at ludicrous speed, and allow them to see the the pulses of light emitted by their laser traveling across the capture plane. Due to a the speed at which the camera is required to work, it can only capture one dimension, or a small sliver of the scene. A set of mirrors is rotated to allow the camera to see more of the scene over time, and the resulting images are pieced together, allowing you to see the entire scene in one shot.

Ramesh Raskar, the Associate Professor featured in the video, describes the various uses for this technology. In the short term, he says that the medical community can use this to replace audio imaging such as ultrasounds, yet I’m wary about having a high intensity laser fired at me for any period of time. Of course, consumer photography is expected to see the results of these tests, but not until after the industrial side of the house uses it to inspect materials for defects.

As for consumer photography, capturing light as it passes over a subject would be a very cool way of lighting a scene, but again, I’m still wary of shooting big lasers at people.

Editor: This was set to post yesterday, and WordPress failed me.

Source: Bill Gross (

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