The Single-Shot Femtosecond Hyperspectral Camera.

Lead Research Organisation: University of Oxford
Department Name: Oxford Physics


The basis of the project was seeded from a STFC IAA grant `3D Laser Spectrometer' (KCD00170) and a STFC IPS Fellow Discretionary Fund, awarded June 2017. The project arose from the need for a novel diagnostic to support the plasma accelerator research of STFC grants ST/J002011/1 and ST/M007375/1. The IAA grant has allowed a working single-shot hyperspectral camera to be built and a single-shot ultrafast videography camera to be developed. The development of the instruments has attracted the attention of companies seeking the commercialisation of the cameras. During the development of the instruments, the wide scope of applications was outlined, and directions of future development were made clear. The STFC follow-on fund will prove the commercial capabilities of the Single-Shot Hyperspectral Protocol (SHP) and facilitate the development of an affordable ultrafast femtosecond imaging protocol.

The fund will allow extending the current proof-of-concept camera to suit the needs for active monitoring and detection of industrial chemicals. Each year around 13,000 deaths are estimated to have been caused by past chemical exposure, at work. Many of the deaths were preventable, involving past chemical exposure unbeknownst to the workers at the time. The commercialisation of an affordable and rapidly deployable hyperspectral camera such as the SHP would ensure occupational health and safety through early detection of fugitive process emissions while mitigating costly pauses in production. Hyperspectral chemical monitoring can also contribute in the optimization of chemical production efficiency and in the quality assurance of industrial and agricultural products.

The follow-on fund will also bring the newly developed Ultrafast Single-shot Hyperspectral Protocol (USHP) to a marketable stage. The fund will also enable upgrades to the USHP, improving videography resolution by one hundred percent. Ultrafast videography is an invaluable tool in the study of plasmas, photochemistry, photovolataics, spintronics, materials, fluidics, and protein biology. Currently, the pump-probe method is the go-to method for ultrafast imaging, but the method requires repetitive measurements to construct a video - falling short in probing non-repetitive events. Comparable ultrafast methods, such as streaks cameras are costly and also fall short in video frame rate when compared to the SHP - which is expected to capture videos at 50 trillion frames per second in its current iteration, a new world record. The availability of a commercially ultrafast imaging system will democratise ultrafast science - a field that has been confined to national laboratories and oversubscribed user facilities, with few exceptions.


10 25 50
publication icon
Aboushelbaya R (2020) Measuring the orbital angular momentum of high-power laser pulses in Physics of Plasmas

Description My group has generated a series of time-resolved images (with a few femtosecond temporal resolution) to follow the propagation of an ultra-intense laser pulse through a gaseous target using the instrument developed under this grant. I expect to submit the results to the top physics journal - Physical Review Letters - in the coming months. The particle-in-cell simulations of the interaction took longer than expected to complete but are coming to a conclusion. I am very confident that the technology is disruptive. It underpins the IP associated with the spinout company, Living Optics. The work has led to an accepted article in Optics Express journal written in collaboration with colleagues at the LMU, Germany (to be published 2023). I expect that the technology will find a wide range of applications across industry, the natural sciences and everyday life.
Exploitation Route We have completed the second stage of series A funding for the spin-out and have raised £20M from investors. To date, it has attracted significant interest from defence and energy companies.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Chemicals,Energy

Description The award has led to the spin-out of the Living Optics company, via Oxford University Innovation. This was described by VentureRadar in 2020 as 'The Top 20 Newly Founded University Spin-offs You Should Know'. We have raised £6.75M from investors to develop a compact hyperspectral imaging device. It is based upon a combination of machine learning and novel optical and imaging technologies to process images in real time.
First Year Of Impact 2020
Sector Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software)
Impact Types Societal,Economic

Description Hyperspectral phase imaging for high-intensity laser characterization
Amount £63,000 (GBP)
Funding ID R77496-CN001 
Organisation University of Oxford 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2022 
End 09/2026
Description CALA Laser Facility at the Ludwig Maxillian University Munich 
Organisation Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (LMU Munich)
Department Faculty of Physics
Country Germany 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We performed an experiment at the CALA 3 PW laser facility between October - December 2021. The idea was to use the SHRIMP device, developed under this grant, to image the evolution of a laser wakefield accelerator on a single shot. The SHRIMP provides an ultra-fast movie on a single CCD detector with the use of a tranverse optical probe beam to the 3 PW pump pulse when focused into a gas-jet target. We obtained unexpected results that are now under analysis using multi-dimensional Particle-in-Cell simulations.
Collaborator Contribution The CALA 3 PW laser was provided for the experiment.
Impact The data is currently under analysis. I expect to be able to provide a publication in next year's review.
Start Year 2021
Title Spectral Imaging 
Description We invented a new type of spectrometer that can give multiple 2D spectral profiles of incoming light in a single measurement. 
IP Reference PCT/GB2020/052136 (GB1912726.5) 
Protection Patent granted
Year Protection Granted 2018
Licensed Yes
Impact This has been licenced to Living Optics plc, a new spin out company that has arisen out of this grant application.
Description The company is based upon STFC-supported patents for a novel design of 3D spectrometer that can retrieve 3D spectral profile in a single measurement. The 3D spectrometer design is built upon the concept of compressed sensing to make it possible to retrieve 3D information from 2D data from a screen/camera. In contrast to common spectrometers, the 3D spectrometer uses a wide slit instead of a narrow slit and retrieve the 3D datacube that consists of 2D spatial and 1D spectral information. Numerical tests were performed to simulate the retrieval of spectral profiles. The results show that the retrieved profiles match well the original profiles. We have also shown that the retrieved signal from the 3D spectrometer is robust enough for further post-processing analysis. 
Year Established 2019 
Impact The company was formed in March 2020. We are concentrating on the design of a 3D spectrometer. It is valued at £6.75M and employs ten people. The Venture Radar group listed us on as an up and coming company. Grant ST/T000724/1 supported the launch of this company. The 2020 patent has been assigned patent number GB1912726.5, and will be progressing to A1 (publicly available). The private funding, as promised, from Oxford Science Innovation was fulfilled. Also promised were the three following: 1. A camera attachment that conducts the SHP manipulations (section 2, figure 2) to incoming light before detection on a CCD/CMOS. 2. A software package that reconstructs a three dimensional dataset from the CCD/CMOS signal. 3. Accessories. Option for an included camera optimised for the SHP, and standardised mounts (C-mount/EF-mount) for an user preferred camera. All three objectives were delivered.