Femto Camera – How to see light in motion

Imagine you could slow down the time just enough to see light traveling. Nothing is faster than light (as far as we know). Light travels at about approx. 300 000 000 m/s when in vacuum. Now imagine watching it move. With the invention of femto cameras, that became possible.

An average smartphone camera records at 30 frames per second (fps), but more advanced cameras can record at 500 fps, 1000 fps or even 5000 fps. A femto camera records at a dazzling trillion (1,000,000,000,000) frames per second.

Femto camera

A research team at MIT (Massachusettes Institute of Techonology) led by professor Ramesh Raskar, together with Graphics and Imaging Lab, developed a streak camera (these type of cameras measure variation in a pulse of light’s intensity with time) which can record 2D images with great speed.

Raskar had a presentation at TEDGlobal in 2012. There he publicly showed the true power of his invention. To slow the light down sufficiently, the researchers filled a Coca Cola bottle with water, and then let the light through. This is the result:

According to Raskar, this invention may someday bring us the ability to see behind corners or to see inside the body without x-rays. Who knows? Maybe his predicitions will indeed someday become reality.

You can see the full presentation at TEDGlobal here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y_9vd4HWlVA

Napisala: Mateja Napravnik