MIT researchers develop one trillion frame per second camera MIT researchers develop one trillion frame per second camera
aug 18, 2012

MIT researchers develop one trillion frame per second camera

MIT researchers capture light travel at one trillion frames per second

researchers at the MIT media lab in america have developed a new camera system that processes visual data at a rate of one trillion frames per second. the technology is capable of detecting light travel, producing images that can track the individual movement of light photons through slow motion video captures. with this, the device allows for a precise examination of its illumination trail through space onto an object in fine detail. by integrating a one dimensional streak camera consisting of over five hundred sensors and a titanium sapphire laser, simultaneous data capture records the information, where it is then processed into a video simulation.

MIT camera technology information

light proton data composition

light proton mapping via cnet

  • after looking at the .gif for an extended time i would like to point out the sudden “flash” at the bottle neck. it looks a lot faster than the “beam” that is incoming. if the frames are steady, as well as the speed, then the “flash”, has to be light traveling faster than the speed it originated. i dont know if this is due to a parabola effect from the cap, maybe fluid dynamics. i don’t know, but the video seems to speak towards something more than what it shows.

    heisenberg says:
  • heisenberg, that would be because the light travels faster through air than it does water, and near the cap there is less water for the light to travel through.

    SoulWager says:
  • Light is effected by whatever material it passes through, no matter how much it does or doesn’t have left to go through. What you’re seeing, heisenberg, is the refraction of the light passing from the photon to the camera. The bottle that it is passing through is not geometrically cylindrical, it has contours that refract the light differently based on its angle of entry to the plastic, which essential acts like a lens would. What you see at the end is the refractive effect caused by the bottle’s rapid taper from the thickest part to the cap. It makes it look faster because the light hitting the edge of bottle is ‘moving’ faster than the photon is. It’s just lensing.

    Soulwager, light actually travels through water slower because water has a higher refractive index than air. See here:

    zooksp says:
  • fake video is fake

    you can see the light speed up at the end

    everyone knows light travels consistently, I don’t care how good your camera is, you can’t change the speed of light

    therefore the video is faked

    sherlock says:
  • sherlock, quite the contrary, light does not travel consistently. If it did, rainbows would be a physical impossibility. Light is slowed as it travels through a medium such as air or a liquid, thus the perception of light’s speed will change as the density of the medium it is in changes.

    Chris says:
  • Great! But that is not a news if you read something else that Designboom…

    S Philippe says:
  • How can that be possible light travel at 186,000 miles per second, and this camera system processes visual data at a rate of one trillion frames per second, isn\’t that faster than the speed of light, which they say nothing can travel faster?

    Jose says:
  • Jose, the video explains it.

    Anonymous says:
  • Sherlock: Granted, the light in the GIF appears to speed up, but the demonstration in the actual Youtive video shows the light at nearly uniform speed. The video is not necessarily fake, although the GIF is of rather low quality (its a GIF, get over it)

    C Meyer says:
  • I don\’t know what anything in this article means or what the pictures represent cool

    WHatte says:
  • In Other News: Madonna has been warned about her spinning Tassle Bra. Fans worry that she might Wrench her Neck.

    FasterThanLight says:
  • Heisenberg, SoulWager, Sherlock: As per the geometry of the bottle, refraction would make the incoming waves of light to bend towards the right of the picture as they get closer to the thinner section of the bottle. This is because light leaving a denser medium for a rarer medium bends away from the normal to the boundary. It really is the lens effect. This must be causing the apparent speeding up of the light pulse (correct me if I\’m wrong). Another explanation may be that the frames of the gif are not equally spaced in time! Anticlimactic I agree. 🙂
    Zooksp: Please, here the light is behaving as waves (it\’s refraction–a wave phenomenon).
    Jose: Here, nothing is \”traveling\” faster than light. Nothing, neither material nor information is being sent ahead of the light pulse. The contraption is only recording information from over 500 different sensors working in unison. Each individual sensor is running at a much lower speed. But your question got me thinking. How many frames the camera, running at one trillion fps, would have recorded while the light travels through the coke bottle? The answer of my crude calculation is about 1400.
    All: Also, please note that light–or any electromagnetic radiation–travels at a constant speed only through empty space. Light waves of different frequencies travel at different speeds through a physical medium. This is what causes the rainbows etc as pointed out by Chris.

    Captain says:
  • What’s boggling my mind right now, is that the light is also taking time to move from the inside of the bottle to be perceived by the sensors, but we don’t see ripples or waves of light from the light beam going out in all directions in the water. I don’t know what I’m talking about at all, but it doesn’t make sense to me.

    WhySoCurious says:
  • Madonna has a spinning Tesla bra ? I thout that was Kety Perry .

    zdmann says:
  • How long till Zack Snyder gets one?

    Sydpart2 says:
  • Chris 08.18.12 is correct.

    How can that be possible light travel at 186,000 miles per second, and this camera system processes visual data at a rate of one trillion frames per second, isn\’t that faster than the speed of light, which they say nothing can travel faster?
    Jose 08.18.12

    The camera isn’t traveling… it is recording. distance isnt a factor in recording something.

    StrongFactor says:
  • How can we “see” the light traveling inside the bottle when the light stays inside the bottle and never reaches our eye? And if it does reach our eye, then it’s not the same light as the one in the bottle, because the light that reached our eye has already escaped out of the bottle. How exactly did they manage do “detect” the light inside the bottle without having the photons hit any sensors?

    shootdaj says:
  • Listen a little closer to the description of how the camera works. Everything is consistent.

    Mike Jackson says:
  • We do not see ‘waves’ of light propogating through the water because the packet of photons in the burst are not constricted to a small high frequency. The more you constrict photons, the more uncertain their momentum, therefore their direction. Besides, to see a wave pattern with photons, they have to experience interference. Photons can interfere with themselves being a “wave-particle” but are less likely to do so being more unconstricted. And as for the being able to see the light as it passes ‘without’ hitting the sensor to be processed, light IS a wave AND a particle. As it travels through the water, it experiences interference by striking electrons in the water. This releses energy exciting the electrons into a higher energy level, then as the electron loses energy (in the form of another, less intense photon) exactly that is released. Striking the camera as a wave.

    James says:

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