Scientists at M.I.T.’s Media Lab have designed a photography rig that captures light as it passes through objects, thereby taking pictures in less than two-trillionths of a second.

According to head researcher Ramesh Rasker, the technology could have revolutionary commercial applications in the near future. “In consumer photography, we’re always fascinated with creating lighting effects that appear to come from very sophisticated light sources, but because we can watch photons seemingly moving through the space, we can… [create] new photographs as if we had created those expensive light sources in a studio,” Rasker explained.

Originally conceived as an initiative to see around corners, the setup evolved to include a modified “streak tube,” a lab instrument normally used with streams of photons. During the experiments (demonstrated above), the tube captured exposed horizontal lines of light passing through a bottle of soda for durations of 1.71 picoseconds (trillionths of a second). Recording about 500 frames every nanosecond, the scientists were able to construct a film of the entire event of the light exiting the bottle.

[via New York Times