Sequentially timed all-optical mapping photography (STAMP)

Journal name:
Nature Photonics
Year published:
Published online

High-speed photography1, 2, 3 is a powerful tool for studying fast dynamics in photochemistry4, 5, spintronics6, 7, phononics8, 9, fluidics10, 11 and plasma physics12. Currently, the pump–probe method is the gold standard for time-resolved imaging4, 5, 6, 8, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, but it requires repetitive measurements for image construction and therefore falls short in probing non-repetitive or difficult-to-reproduce events. Here, we present a motion-picture camera that performs single-shot burst image acquisition without the need for repetitive measurements, yet with equally short frame intervals (4.4 trillion frames per second) and high pixel resolution (450 × 450 pixels). The principle of this method—‘motion picture femtophotography’—is all-optical mapping of the target's time-varying spatial profile onto a burst stream of sequentially timed photographs with spatial and temporal dispersion. To show the camera's broad utility we use it to capture plasma dynamics and lattice vibrational waves, both of which were previously difficult to observe with conventional methods in a single shot and in real time.

At a glance


  1. Schematic of STAMP.
    Figure 1: Schematic of STAMP.

    An ultrashort laser pulse is split by the temporal mapping device (TMD) into a series of discrete daughter pulses in different spectral bands, which are incident on the target as successive ‘flashes’ for stroboscopic image acquisition (which can be configured in reflection or transmission mode). The image-encoded daughter pulses are ‘optically’ and ‘passively’ separated by the spatial mapping device (SMD) and directed towards different areas of the image sensor. The data recorded by the image sensor are digitally processed on the computer to reconstruct a motion picture (movie), with the frame interval and exposure time calibrated from the settings of the TMD. Details of the TMD and SMD are shown in the insets and described in the Methods. Note that the pulse colours in the figure are only for illustrative purpose and do not represent real wavelengths.

  2. Basic performance of STAMP.
    Figure 2: Basic performance of STAMP.

    a, Performance of the temporal mapping device (TMD). Various frame intervals (229 fs, 812 fs and 15.3 ps, corresponding to frame rates of 4.37 Tfps, 1.23 Tfps and 65.4 Gfps, respectively) and exposure times (733 fs, 1.02 ps and 13.8 ps) were obtained by adjusting the settings of the TMD. b, Performance of the spatial mapping device, shown as spectra of daughter pulses corresponding to different movie frames. The images captured by the image sensor indicate high pixel resolution in both macroscopic and microscopic imaging configurations.

  3. Monitoring of plasma dynamics with STAMP.
    Figure 3: Monitoring of plasma dynamics with STAMP.

    a, Schematic of the experiment. A thin glass plate was ablated by a high-intensity femtosecond laser pulse for a micro-explosion, and the resultant dynamics was monitored at an angle perpendicular to the ablation pulse by STAMP in a shadowgraph configuration. b, STAMP movie, showing the generation of free electrons, known as a plasma filament (corresponding to the dark area indicated by the white arrow in the second frame) and the generation and expansion of a plume caused by laser irradiation. c, Evolution of the plume wavefront. The angle-dependent analysis of the wavefront profile indicates slight asymmetry in its expansion.

  4. Observation of lattice vibrational waves with STAMP.
    Figure 4: Observation of lattice vibrational waves with STAMP.

    a, Schematic of experiment. The crystal is excited by a cylindrically shaped femtosecond laser pulse to produce lattice vibrational waves in the crystal via impulsive stimulated Raman scattering and their dynamical evolution is monitored by STAMP. b, STAMP movie, showing the irregular and complex electronic response of the excited region in the crystal (t < 1 ps), followed by the formation of a coherent terahertz phonon–polariton pulse and its upward propagation at ∼15% of the speed of light, leaving the electronic response behind (t > 1 ps). Insets: detailed dynamics captured by STAMP with a finer frame interval (Supplementary Movies 4 and 5). c, Temporal waveforms (with its carrier envelope) and corresponding spectra of the propagating phonon pulse in each frame from t = 2,167 fs to 3,297 fs.


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Author information


  1. Department of Precision Engineering, The University of Tokyo, Tokyo 113-8656, Japan

    • K. Nakagawa &
    • I. Sakuma
  2. Department of Chemistry, The University of Tokyo, Tokyo 113-0033, Japan

    • A. Iwasaki &
    • K. Goda
  3. Center for Ultrafast Intense Laser Science, The University of Tokyo, Tokyo 113-0033, Japan

    • A. Iwasaki
  4. RIKEN Advanced Meson Science Laboratory, Saitama 351-0198, Japan

    • Y. Oishi
  5. Graduate School of Information Science and Technology, Osaka University, Osaka 565-0871, Japan

    • R. Horisaki
  6. Department of Applied Physics, National Defense Academy, Kanagawa 239-8686, Japan

    • A. Tsukamoto
  7. Department of Electronics and Electrical Engineering, Keio University, Kanagawa 223-8522, Japan

    • A. Nakamura &
    • F. Kannari
  8. Keio Advanced Research Center, Keio University, Kanagawa 223-8522, Japan

    • K. Hirosawa
  9. Department of Bioengineering, The University of Tokyo, Tokyo 113-8656, Japan

    • H. Liao &
    • I. Sakuma
  10. Department of Mechanical Engineering, The University of Tokyo, Tokyo 113-8656, Japan

    • T. Ushida
  11. Center for Disease Biology and Integrative Medicine, Tokyo 113-8656, Japan

    • T. Ushida
  12. Department of Electrical Engineering, University of California, Los Angeles, California 90095, USA

    • K. Goda
  13. Medical Device Development and Regulation Research Center, Tokyo 113-8656, Japan

    • I. Sakuma


K.N. conceived the concept of STAMP. K.N., A.I., Y.O., A.T., F.K. and I.S. designed the STAMP camera. K.N., Y.O., A.N., K.H. and F.K. constructed the camera. K.N. and A.I. carried out the imaging experiments. R.H. performed image processing for STAMP imaging. K.G. carried out the theoretical analysis. H.L., K.G. and T.U. provided assistance to the camera construction and imaging experiments. T.U., K.G., F.K. and I.S. supervised the project. K.N., K.G., F.K. and I.S. participated in writing the manuscript.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Supplementary information

PDF files

  1. Supplementary information (2,943 KB)

    Supplementary information


  1. Supplementary movie 1 (27.4 MB)

    Supplementary movie 1

  2. Supplementary movie 2 (252 KB)

    Supplementary movie 2

  3. Supplementary movie 3 (403 KB)

    Supplementary movie 3

  4. Supplementary movie 4 (345 KB)

    Supplementary movie 4

  5. Supplementary movie 5 (344 KB)

    Supplementary movie 5

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