Published: 17th October 2020
This camera films 3D movies at 100 billion frames per second
The device by Lihong Wang at California Institute of Technology not only records video at incredibly fast speeds but does so in 3D
As 3D technology becomes popular, a team of US researchers has developed an ultra-fast camera that is capable of taking up to 100 billion frames per second -- fast enough to take 10 billion pictures, more images than the entire human population of the world, in the time it takes you to blink your eye.
The device by Lihong Wang at California Institute of Technology not only records video at incredibly fast speeds but does so in 3D.
Earlier, Wang's lab developed technology that can reach blistering speeds of 70 trillion frames per second, fast enough to see light travel. However, just like the camera in your cell phone, it could only produce flat images.
Wang calls the new iteration "single-shot stereo-polarimetric compressed ultrafast photography," or SP-CUP, in a paper published in the journal Nature Communications.
In CUP technology, all of the frames of a video are captured in one action without repeating the event.
This makes a CUP camera extremely quick (a good cell-phone camera can take 60 frames per second).
Wang added a third dimension to this ultrafast imagery by making the camera "see" more like humans do.
When a person looks at the world around them, they perceive that some objects are closer to them, and some objects are farther away.
Such depth perception is possible because of our two eyes, each of which observes objects and their surroundings from a slightly different angle.
The information from these two images is combined by the brain into a single 3D image.
"The SP-CUP camera works in essentially the same way," Wang said.
"The camera is stereo now. We have one lens, but it functions as two halves that provide two views with an offset. Two channels mimic our eyes".
Just as our brain does with the signals it receives from our eyes, the computer that runs the SP-CUP camera processes data from these two channels into one three-dimensional movie.
SP-CUP also features another innovation that no human possesses: the ability to see the polarisation of light waves.
Wang said that the SP-CUP's combination of high-speed three-dimensional imagery and the use of polarisation information makes it a powerful tool that may be applicable to a wide variety of scientific problems.
In particular, it will help researchers better understand the physics of sonoluminescence -- a phenomenon in which sound waves create tiny bubbles in water or other liquids.