Japanese scientists have created a way to record chemical reactions

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You know those high-speed cameras used to film mesmerizing ultra slo-mo videos? They’re downright slow compared to this one developed by researchers from The University of Tokyo and Keio University in Japan. The 12-man science team has just revealed an extremely speedy camera that can take pictures of chemical reactions (in burst mode, as those are impossible to capture in a single shot) at 450 x 450 pixels. It’s called the Sequentially Timed All-optical Mapping Photography or STAMP cam, and it can capture consecutive images at a rate of one per every one-trillionth of a second. To note, other high-speed cameras capture one image per every one-billionth of a second. The device is supposed to be 1,000 times faster than comparable models and has even managed to snap a picture of heat conduction during a test.

Two major Japanese universities have unveiled a camera that’s 1,000 times faster than existing high-speed cameras. With a multitude of applications in both the public and private sector, it can capture images that are basically impossible to visualize in a single shot, such as chemical reactions. Developed by the University of Tokyo and Keio University, the world’s fastest camera uses new technology called Sequentially Timed All-optical Mapping Photography, or STAMP, which was introduced in Nature Photonics’ online edition on Sunday. Researchers have even succeeded in photographing the conduction of heat, which is transmitted at a speed equivalent to one-sixth the velocity of light. The STAMP camera’s optical shutter enables it to shoot images consecutively in less than one-trillionth of a second, outperfoming the one-billionth of a second that it takes between pictures from cameras using mechanical or electronic shutters. A joint research team consisting of 12 researchers from the two universities has been developing the camera for three years, said Keisuke Goda, professor of physical chemistry at the University of Tokyo and a member of the research team. They will continue to work on making the camera–which is currently about one square meter in size–smaller for practical use in the next couple of years. “It is a promising invention because these cameras can be utilized in various fields,” said Goda, adding that they could also provide basic technology to the private sector to put it into use. He said, for example, the camera can be used in auto and semiconductor factories to help develop a better understanding of laser processing. In the medical field, it could also lead to advances in ultrasonic therapy, he added.

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