A Trillionth-of-a-Second Shutter Speed Camera Catches Chaos in Action

Long-time Slashdot reader turp182 shares two stories about the new state-of-the-art in very-high-speed imaging. “The techniques don’t image captured photons, but instead ‘touch’ the target to perform imaging/read structures using either lasers or neutrons.”

First, Science Daily reports that physicists from the University of Gothenburg (with colleagues from the U.S. and Germany) have developed an ultrafast laser camera that can create videos at 12.5 billion images per second, “which is at least a thousand times faster than today’s best laser equipment.”

[R]esearchers use a laser camera that photographs the material in [an ultrathin, one-atom-thick] two-dimensional layer…. By observing the sample from the side, it is possible to see what reactions and emissions occur over time and space. Researchers have used single-shot laser sheet compressed ultrafast photography to study the combustion of various hydrocarbons…. This has enabled researchers to illustrate combustion with a time resolution that has never been achieved before. “The more pictures taken, the more precisely we can follow the course of events….” says Yogeshwar Nath Mishra, who was one of the researchers at the University of Gothenburg and who is now presenting the results in a scientific article in the journal Light: Science & Applications…. The new laser camera takes a unique picture with a single laser pulse.
Meanwhile, ScienceAlert reports on a camera with a trillionth-of-a-second shutter speed — that is, 250 million times faster than digital cameras — that’s actually able to photograph atomic activity, including “dynamic disorder.”
Simply put, dynamic disorder is when clusters of atoms move and dance around in a material in specific ways over a certain period — triggered by a vibration or a temperature change, for example. It’s not a phenomenon that we fully understand yet, but it’s crucial to the properties and reactions of materials. The new super-speedy shutter speed system gives us much more insight into what’s happening….

The researchers are referring to their invention as variable shutter atomic pair distribution function, or vsPDF for short…. To achieve its astonishingly quick snap, vsPDF uses neutrons to measure the position of atoms, rather than conventional photography techniques. The way that neutrons hit and pass through a material can be tracked to measure the surrounding atoms, with changes in energy levels the equivalent of shutter speed adjustments.

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