Scientists at UCLA’s Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science have created a camera that can take 6.1 million pictures in a single second, at a shutter speed of 440 trillionths of a second. If you’re doing the math: light moves only a fraction of a centimeter in that time.
Dubbed STEAM (serial time-encoded amplified microscopy), the camera illuminates objects with an infrared laser that cycles through a series of different wavelengths, one for each pixel on the sensor. When reflected light hits the camera’s sensor, each pixel picks up its dedicated wavelength, and is given an electronic boost of a matching wavelength. That amplifies the original dim signal, composed of just a few photons, until it becomes visible.
But if you’re salivating at the concept of having this speedy little gem in your arsenal… don’t get the credit card warmed up just yet. It isn’t likely that this camera — with applications like flow cytometry, a technique used for blood analysis — is likely to be developed into a commercial model anytime soon.