Tuesday, 13 December 2011

MIT Photographs Light at One Trillion Frames Per Second

Using a pulsing light source, and a sensor array with 500 sensors, each triggered a trillionth of a second after each other, you get a video that lets you see the light move.  Now Its not as simple as pointing a camera and selecting the really really slow motion option, whats really happening is that they are taking pictures of a line across the scene at 1 trillion frames per second, then recreating the entire image by stacking the lines.  

This video from the MIT youtube channel describes how the picture is taken, and shows the result.  A pulse of light being scattered through a plastic bottle.

From the MIT News article:
"After an hour, the researchers accumulate hundreds of thousands of data sets, each of which plots the one-dimensional positions of photons against their times of arrival. Raskar, Velten and other members of Raskar’s Camera Culture group at the Media Lab developed algorithms that can stitch that raw data into a set of sequential two-dimensional images."
The video and article go on to explain how this could be used in medical and chemical engineering processes.  Where if you can determine how light scatters through a body, you can make ultrasounds with light pulses.

MIT News Office

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