Serial time-encoded amplified imaging/microscopy (STEAM) is a fast real-time optical imaging method that provides ~10 MHz frame rate, ~100 ps shutter speed, and ~30 dB (× 1000) optical image gain. As of today, STEAM holds world records for shutter speed and frame rate in continuous real-time imaging. STEAM employs the photonic time stretch along with optical image amplification to circumvent the fundamental trade-off between sensitivity and speed that affects virtually all optical imaging and sensing systems.

With this calculator, you will be able to determine spatial and temporal resolution of 1D STEAM.

Schematics (Click on image to expand)


  1. K. K. Tsia, K. Goda, D. Capewell, and B. Jalali, "Performance of serial time-encoded amplified microscope," Optics Express 18, 10016 (2010). PDF

Spatial Resolution

Temporal Resolution


The actual spatial resolution of STEAM is not solely determined by diffraction limit, as in the case of typical confocal microscopy.It can also be affected during the space-frequency and frequency-time mapping processes. Specifically, it can be governed by (i) the spectral resolution of the spatial disperser, (ii) the spectral resolution imposed by ADFT through stationary-phase-approximation (SPA), (iii) the temporal resolution of the digitizer, and (iv) the Abbe diffraction limit. The largest of these four resolution will be the limiting factor for the system.