High-speed imaging is an indispensable technology for blur-free observation of fast transient dynamics in virtually all areas including science, industry, defense, energy, and medicine. Unfortunately, the frame rates of conventional cameras are significantly constrained by their data transfer bandwidth and onboard storage. We demonstrate a two-dimensional dynamic imaging technique, compressed ultrafast photography (CUP), which can capture non-repetitive time-evolving events at up to 100 billion fps. Compared with existing ultrafast imaging techniques, CUP has a prominent advantage of measuring an x, y, t (x, y, spatial coordinates; t, time) scene with a single camera snapshot, thereby allowing observation of transient events occurring on a time scale down to tens of picoseconds. Thanks to the CUP technology, for the first time, the human can see light pulses on the fly. Because this technology advances the imaging frame rate by orders of magnitude, we now enter a new regime and open new visions.
In this talk, I will discuss our recent effort to develop a second-generation CUP system and demonstrate its applications at scales from macroscopic to microscopic. For the first time, we imaged photonic Mach cones and captured "Sonic Boom" of light in action. Moreover, by adapting CUP for microscopy, we enabled two-dimensional fluorescence lifetime imaging at an unprecedented speed. The advantage of CUP recording is that even visually simple systems can be scientifically interesting when they are captured at such a high speed. Given CUP's capability, we expect it to find widespread applications in both fundamental and applied sciences including biomedical research.