The iridescent spark of a laser filament

This iridescent image shows a kind of spark called a filament created during the focusing of a laser, captured with a new, blindingly fast holographic technique that can record events that last a mere 50 femtoseconds. (A femtosecond is one millonth of one billionth of a second.)

The new technique, developed by researchers at ITMO University in St Petersburg, Russia, and described in a paper in Applied Physics Letters, allows for the creation of extremely detailed and highly magnified images of fast-moving processes in living cells.

Holographic techniques capture information about the phase of incoming light, as well as the colour and intensity information that is caught by normal photography, which allows for more detailed 3-dimenional reconstructions.

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