World's Fastest Camera Catches Cancer At 36.7 Million Frames Per Second

There are plenty of insanely fast ways to acquire images, but engineers have now created the world's fastest 2D camera. It's so fast it can image 36.7 million fully 2D frames every second — and it could revolutionise the way we screen for cancer.

The camera is actually part of a microscope setup, and it uses a process known as serial time-encoded amplified microscopy (STEAM), a system which users laser light to create images. It has a shutter speed of just 27 picoseconds, which means it can take 36.7 million frames per second.

That's all very impressive, but what use is it? Well, its currently being used to analyse cells. A stream of cells pass under its field of view at 14km/h, and the camera can consequently be used to analyse 100,000 of the things every second. That's 100 times quicker than any previous microscope.

The upshot is that millions of cells can be imaged and then analysed computationally to spot abnormalities. In turn, it's possible to detect incredibly rare cancer cells in blood, with a record-low false positive rate of one in a million.

In fact, the throughput of the cells isn't limited by the speed of the camera — but by the rate at which cells can be moved without damage. Talk about future-proofing. [PNAS via PopSci]

Image: The Webhamster/Flickr

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