If you thought the Fujifilm X-H2S or Canon EOS R6 Mark II were rapid-fire shooters with their 40fps burst modes, it's time to thoroughly recalibrate your expectations of speed. That's because boffins in Sweden have come up with a camera that can record at 12.5 BILLION frames per second. Yikes!
As you can probably tell, this is no ordinary camera - you won't find it being used at the next Olympics. This is in fact a laser camera designed for studying the scientific world of lightning-fast combustion of hydrocarbons, to find out what happens to a material that is burned in different conditions. This is achieved by photographing the material in a two-dimensional layer, known as LS CUP (single-shot laser sheet compressed ultrafast photography). Then by studying the sample from the side, researchers are able to observe the reactions and emissions occurring across space and time.
At 12.5 billion frames per second, the new camera is at least 1000 times faster than the current fastest laser cameras, allowing scientists to observe combustion processes in a greater than ever resolution.
“The more pictures taken, the more precisely we can follow the course of events. Hydrocarbon fuel combustion produces nano-sized soot particles, various light phenomena and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, PAH, which are hazardous to the environment”
Yogeshwar Nath Mishra, University of Gothenburg
The applications for studying combustion in such detail are literally out of this world. Soot particles from hydrocarbons make up 70% of material in interstellar space, but are extremely short lived during the combustion process, being burned up in a matter of nanoseconds, hence the need for an extremely fast camera to capture their immensely brief 'lifespan'.
“Before, problems arose when the camera was limited to a few million images per second. Producing two-dimensional pictures of different types of combustion has required repeated laser pulses, which impacts the combustion temperature when the laser adds energy” Yogeshwar Nath Mishra
It isn't only combustion that can be recorded by such an immensely fast camera. Other uses could include much broader applications in physics, chemistry, biology and medicine, energy and environmental research.