If you think your 120-fps camera is the fast, you’re wrong. There is a new camera that’s so fast it can capture the movement of light itself. Courtesy the work of researchers at Washington University in St. Louis comes a technique researchers are calling Compressed Ultrafast Photography (or CUP for short).
An entire dimension better than previous streak camera setups, which were only capable of tracking the movement of light in one dimension, the CUP technique is capable of snagging two-dimensional images. In a much publicized demo video, you can actually see the movement of a laser pulse bouncing off a mirror in the time span of 300 picoseconds. That’s 300 trillionths of a second to the average layman.
Although to this point the technology is being used to study the reflection and refraction of light and the transitioning of photons, it’s already being envisioned for the development of sci-fi-level NSA-and military-grade things like invisibility cloaks.
Writing in Nature, Dartmouth engineer Brian Pogue claimed, “It might be possible to improve the investigation into approaches to optical cloaking, in which light bends or is deformed around an object, instead of going through it.”
There are other more encouraging possibilities on the horizon, including its potential use in biomedical research.