The camera captures the movement of light particles

Researchers make sensor cameras that can capture the movement of light particles at unprecedented speed and resolution.

The camera was developed by the Advanced Quantum Architecture Laboratory (AQUALab) at the Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL) of Switzerland, based on the new generation image sensor technology using a single photodiode ( SPAD) . This is the first device capable of photographing individual photons at megapixel resolution .

Picture 1 of The camera captures the movement of light particles
New sensor technology allows photographing the smallest molecules of light. (Photo: OSA).

The technology promises to push applications that require rapid 3D image acquisition such as virtual reality glasses or LiDAR systems for autonomous vehicles - a method of measuring the distance to an object by shining a laser beam on the target and Measuring light reflected pulses with sensors.

"Thanks to its high resolution and depth measurement capabilities, the new camera can make virtual reality more realistic and allow us to interact with information more seamlessly , " lead researcher Edoardo Charbon, the head of AQUALab, said. " For transport applications, the camera can help vehicles achieve unprecedented autonomy and stability, by using multiple low-energy LiDAR systems in the vehicle at the same time, providing a view. fast 3D visualization of the surroundings in high resolution ".

The team created one of the smallest SPAD pixels and reduced the energy consumption of each pixel to less than 1 microwatt, while maintaining speed and time accuracy. 

The new camera can capture images at up to 24,000 frames per second, 800 times the standard television camera speed. This speed allows an accurate measurement of the time a photon hits the sensor, helping to calculate how long individual light particles take from the laser source to the camera. The combination of flight time information and the ability to capture one million pixels allows the camera to reproduce 3D images at an extremely high speed.

In the next phase, Charbon and his colleagues want to further improve the performance and resolution of the camera, and at the same time find ways to minimize the parts of the device to make it more practical for many applications. . Details of the study were published in Optica magazine of the American Optical Association (OSA).

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