Through the creation of a virtual slow-motion camera, we now have the ability to see and capture photons moving through space. Though invisible to the naked eye, this technology can shed light on what may have been previously unnoticeable.

And let there be light!

Built by MIT researchers, this technology uses a streak camera that allows to measure the pulse of light’s intensity over a period of time. Being able to gather data at 1 trillion exposures per second may seem fancy schmancy, but should anyone care about what can be done with flying light particles anyway?

Well, we should care. From detecting product defects to looking at ones internal organs, this equipment shouldn’t be taken lightly.

From a manufacturer’s perspective, the most microscopic flaw in apparel, machinery tools, or automotive products could be identified instantly at the onset of production, avoiding a mass production of faulty products. By analyzing how scattered light bounces off objects, designers of any persuasion could use this technology to perfect their existing merchandise or to go back to the drawing board for their respective goods.

Moreover, for medical imaging, this equipment can allow health care professionals to use ultrasound with light, capturing detailed models of internal body parts. Such technology can be paramount in offsetting the limitations of regular ultrasound, allowing for better imaging to accurately visualize abnormalities.  From detecting pathological lesions to reducing misdiagnoses, this camera could even have the potential to enhance early detection in cancer.

So let there be light, and let it allow researchers to delve into a world where our eyes cannot. Capturing the movement of photons may be one small step for picture technology, but it’s definitely one giant leap for whom it may benefit.

By Marcus Burke