Virtual frame technique: Ultrafast imaging with any camera

S. Dillavou, S. M. Rubinstein, J. M. Kolinski*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Many phenomena of interest in nature and industry occur rapidly and are difficult and cost-prohibitive to visualize properly without specialized cameras. Here we describe in detail the virtual frame technique (VFT), a simple, useful, and accessible mode of imaging that increases the frame acquisition rate of any camera by several orders of magnitude by leveraging its dynamic range. The VFT is a powerful tool for capturing rapid phenomenon where the dynamics facilitate a transition between two states, and are thus binary. The advantages of the VFT are demonstrated by examining such dynamics in five physical processes at unprecedented rates and spatial resolution: fracture of an elastic solid, wetting of a solid surface, rapid fingerprint reading, peeling of adhesive tape, and impact of an elastic hemisphere on a hard surface. We show that the performance of the VFT exceeds that of any commercial high-speed camera not only in rate of imaging but also in field of view, achieving a 65MHz frame rate at 4MPx resolution. Finally, we discuss the performance of the VFT with several commercially available conventional and high-speed cameras. In principle, modern cell phones can achieve imaging rates of over a million frames per second using the VFT.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)8112-8120
Number of pages9
JournalOptics Express
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Optical Society of America


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