April 28 (UPI) -- Scientists in Sweden have built the world's fastest camera, capable of snapping 5 trillion images per second -- that's an image every 0.2 trillionths of a second.
The camera could be employed to observe super fast processes in chemistry, physics, biology and biomedicine.
Researchers used their new record-breaking camera to document photons traversing a distance equivalent to the width of a piece of paper. In reality, the process takes a picosecond -- one trillionth, or one millionth of one millionth of a second. Using the camera, researchers can break the process down into an observable action, slowed down by a factor of one trillion.
Instead of capturing one image at a time, the camera records multiple images at once and uses an algorithm to sort them into a film-like sequence after the fact.
The first subjects of the new camera will be natural processes, researchers say.
"This does not apply to all processes in nature, but quite a few, for example, explosions, plasma flashes, turbulent combustion, brain activity in animals and chemical reactions. We are now able to film such extremely short processes," Elias Kristensson, a researcher at Lund University, said in a news release. "In the long term, the technology can also be used by industry and others."
Many natural processes are so fast, they are impossible to capture using moving film. The only way to study these processes is by employing still image photography. But the fastest cameras used today capture just 100,000 images per second.
"You then have to attempt to repeat identical experiments to provide several still images which can later be edited into a movie," Kristensson said. "The problem with this approach is that it is highly unlikely that a process will be identical if you repeat the experiment."
Researchers described the camera in a new paper published this week in the journal FRAME.