The ROSS Streak Camera

June 2006

Rochester Optical Streak System Logo

What measurement needs are common to the search for fusion energy, molecular imaging, and the development of high-speed fiber-optic communications? The measurement of ultrafast transient events is one such common need of these and many other state-of-the-art technologies.

The ROSS outfitted with a specialized streak tube that provides 2-ps time resolution.

The ROSS outfitted with a specialized streak tube that provides 2-ps time resolution.

The Rochester Optical Streak System (ROSS) was developed by LLE to meet the high-speed data collection needs of the Laboratory's laser-fusion experiments program on the OMEGA facility. An optical streak camera converts light energy to an electron beam that is rapidly swept across an imaging plate by means of a rapidly varying electric field. The process is similar to the operation of a television tube; the scan rate, however, is much faster. The ROSS camera has the ability to record transient events with a time resolution better than 5 picoseconds. (A picosecond is a trillionth of a second and corresponds to the time it takes light to cross a distance comparable to the thickness of ordinary cover stock.)

An array of ROSS cameras undergoing testing at LLE

An array of ROSS cameras undergoing testing at LLE.

While streak cameras have been in use for several decades, they have generally been cumbersome to use and calibrate. The ROSS system employs a patented automatic self-calibration technique that achieves 1% measurement accuracy. Eight prototype ROSS systems have operated on OMEGA experiments for over 5 years, accumulating over a half million streak measurements with better than 99.9% reliability. LLE has licensed the ROSS technology to Sydor Instruments, LLC, a Rochester-based business, to commercialize this technology for use in research around the world. Sydor Instruments was founded in 2004 to commercialize such high-precision instruments by transferring technology from laser research programs that develop new instrument technology to other laser research programs in need of measuring new levels of performance. Sydor hails the ROSS as the "streak camera for the next 30 years."