Updated at 1:30 p.m. PDT with more information about possible applications for the camera.
For shutterbugs who like to take pictures of fast-moving subjects, nothing beats a dSLR with high frame rates to capture precious moments like scoring a goal at a soccer game or a rally car cornering at breakneck speeds. However, high-end dSLRs such as the Nikon D3 can fire off at only 11 frames per second (fps). Are there other shooters that can rattle off much faster?
Scientists at UCLA's Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science have developed a novel, continuously running camera that they claim is the fastest shooter ever. In a mere second, it can capture 6.1 million shots with the shutter speed measuring 440 trillionths of a second.
By using a laser that emits different infrared frequencies to illuminate the subject, each pixel picks up individual signals that are amplified to be visible. According to the scientists--who detail their research in the current issue of Nature--this technology is called serial time-encoded amplified microscopy, or STEAM for short.
The study was funded by the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency, the U.S. Department of Defense's central research and development organization. One application the researchers envision for the camera is flow cytometry, a technique used for blood analysis. Traditional blood analyzers can count cells and extract information about their size, but they cannot take pictures of every cell because no camera is fast enough and sensitive enough for the job. … Read more