Washington U Researchers Captured Sonic Boom On Film

By , UniversityHerald Reporter

A sonic boom is used to describe the loud sound that happens when an object travels faster than the speed of sound. That noise is created by a shock wave produced by an aircraft that is most probably traveling at the speed of 717 miles per hour. Recently, however, a team of researchers from the Washington University captured on film what sonic boom looks like and it was amazing.

In order to do this, the scientists had to create a photonic boom or a visual image of the sonic boom and an ultra-speed camera. While finding a camera which can capture trillions of frame per second with just one take is not impossible, creating a photonic boom is a preposterous idea because light travels faster than sound. To make it more visual, light travels at 300,000 kilometers per second.

However, the scientists know that light can be slowed down by using some special kinds of materials. To do this, they created a channel using silicone rubber and powdered aluminum oxide. After that, they filled the space between with fog from dry ice and fired a laser pulse at 7 picosecond shattering the suspended particles.

Because the light traveled slowly through the tunnel they created, they were able to achieve the photonic sonic boom. This was the first time a single instance of light cones was captured in film in real time.

In order to capture this, Jiang Liang, an optical engineer and the head of the team, used a technology called streak camera, where it converts the sequence of the image into spatial information. However, Jiang and his team modified the technology in order to capture three views of the same event.

Jiang said that they hope their research can be used to further study how the brain works. The study is published in Science Advances.

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