Institute National de la Recherche Scientifique (INRS) in Canada – together with Canada’s Concordia University and Meta Platforms Inc. – developed a diffraction-gated, real-time ultrahigh-speed mapping (DRUM) camera that can capture a dynamic event in a single exposure at 4.8 million frames per second.

A newly engineered camera that can capture 4.8 million frames per second has been developed – at a fraction of the cost of its commercial contemporaries.

This camera’s capability to capture dynamic events in a single exposure at a staggering 4.8 million frames per second is indeed groundbreaking.

It’s worth noting that advancements in high-speed imaging technology have been instrumental in fields such as physics, biology, and materials science, enabling researchers to gain insights into fast processes, transient events, and dynamic behaviors that were previously challenging to investigate.

Scientists in Canada found a way to take blur-free images of ultrafast movements using off-the-shelf components which reduce its price tenfold in comparison to similar cameras already in use.

They used ‘time-gating’ methods to capture high-speed movies of scenes in an incredibly narrow timeframe.

To overcome this obstacle, the researchers developed a new ‘time-gating’ method known as time-varying optical diffraction.

Cameras use gates to control when light hits the sensor; for example, in traditional cameras, the shutter is a gate that opens and closes once.

Ultra-high-speed cameras are typically used for scientific research, engineering analysis, and specialized applications where capturing extremely fast phenomena is essential. These cameras work by taking many frames in rapid succession, often at a much higher frame rate than standard cameras.

Features supported:

Ultra-High Frame Rate: As you mentioned, the camera should be capable of capturing millions of frames per second, allowing it to capture even the fastest events in extreme detail.

High Resolution: Despite the high frame rate, it would ideally have a decent resolution to capture fine details in the recorded event.

Specialized Sensors: Ultra-high-speed cameras often use specialized sensors, such as CMOS or CCD sensors, optimized for rapid data capture.

Large Data Storage: Recording at such high frame rates generates massive amounts of data, so these cameras would require substantial onboard storage or high-speed data transfer capabilities.

Light Sensitivity: To capture events in low-light conditions, the camera may have excellent light sensitivity or the ability to use external lighting.

Triggering Mechanism: These cameras are typically used for specific experiments or events, so they often have precise triggering mechanisms to start recording at the exact moment an event occurs.

Post-Processing Capabilities: The camera might have built-in or compatible software for analyzing the recorded data, allowing researchers to extract valuable information from the footage.

The researchers hope their invention could soon be used in biomedicine and to improve hazard-sensing technology for use in things like driverless cars.

The study, published in the journal Optica, set out to find a way of capturing blur-free images of ultrafast movements – such as falling water droplets or even molecular interactions – in a cost-effective way.

High-speed cameras like the DRUM camera have a wide range of applications across various fields, including scientific research, engineering, and entertainment. They allow researchers to study and analyze fast-paced phenomena that are typically difficult to observe with conventional cameras. The ability to capture such events at such high speeds opens up new possibilities for understanding and advancing various areas of science and technology.