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We are creating cameras so fast they can freeze light in motion - capable of seeing through walls and around corners, providing innovative solutions in rescue missions, car, aircraft and defence industries worldwide.

Professor Daniele Faccio, Institute of Photonics and Quantum Sciences

At the EPSRC Quantum Imaging Centre, Professor Daniele Faccio and his team in the Extreme Light Group are developing ground-breaking technology that is changing how we see the world. Cameras that are so fast, they can freeze light in motion, doing what was once thought only possible for comic book super-heroes; seeing around corners and directly through walls or tracking in real time the movement of people or objects that are hidden behind a wall or an obstacle.

Quantum technology, applied to imaging, can save lives; for example in rescue missions and in machine-assisted driving of cars or airborne vehicles. Heriot-Watt is a world leader in this new and revolutionary technology, as recognised two years ago by Professor Faccio being awarded the prestigious Philip Leverhulme Prize for further research into photonics and technologies related to light.

Real-world impact

The Extreme Light Group is also putting Sir Roger Penrose’s black hole superradiance theory, still unproven, to the test. Working in partnership with the University of Nottingham and funded by the EPSRC, researchers are building upon highly developed photonic technologies to produce precisely tailored experiments, to watch light’s interaction with rotating vortices for the first time. 

Nobody has ever attempted to experimentally investigate the underlying physics of Penrose’s theory, which could shed so much light on the hydrodynamics of water vortices and laser beams. Light propagating in a special medium, such as glass or methanol, can behave as a fluid or even a superfluid. Observing the amplification of waves in water and 'fluids of light', will provide a key step forward in understanding curved spacetimes, potentially revealing the secrets of superradiant black holes and leading to new energy sources​.

Read more

Read the BBC report.