Camera captures the smallest particles of light

Camera captures the smallest particles of light

EPFL scientists, working in association with Canon, have developed a camera that can take 3D images with record-breaking speed and resolution.

“It’s something I’d been dreaming of for a long time,” says Edoardo Charbon, an EPFL professor and head of the Advanced Quantum Architecture Laboratory in EPFL’s School of Engineering. “MegaX is the culmination of over 15 years of research on single photon avalanche diodes (SPADs), which are photodetectors used in next-generation image-sensor technology.” And Charbon has good reason to be proud, since he and his research team have developed the world’s first million-pixel camera. Their findings have just been published in Optica.

A shooting star

What makes their camera different is that it can capture and count the very smallest form of light particle: the photon. Photons are invisible to the human eye; we can see only continuous beams of photons, like those used in laser pointers. But MegaX can film the trajectories of individual photons in rays of light. When shown in video form, they look like shooting stars. “We had to slow the film speed by a factor of 300 million to see individual photons move,” says Charbon.

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Source: “MegaX, the first camera to capture the smallest particles of light”, Valerie Geneux, EPFL news