3D holograms have become the norm in regards to science fiction as they are seen in anything from Avatar to Star Wars. Scientists have found it a challenge to develop holograms thin enough for them to be able to work with the modern electronics of today but this is now in the past.
Researchers have now created what is said to be the thinnest hologram in the world and it is 1,000 times the size of a human hair. The researchers are now hoping that their hologram invention is going to help them to pave the way for integrating 3D holography in electronics that are used on an everyday basis, in smartphones, TVs and computers.
A tiny hologram that is able to fit into the palm of a hand and which viewers can see without the need for 3D glasses has now been created by a team of Australian and Chinese researchers at the RMIT University in Melbourne.
The leader of the study, Professor Min Gu, said that the conventional holograms that are generated by computers have been too large for electronic devices, however, he went on to say that their ultra-thin hologram is able to overcome the size barrier.
The professor said that the nano-hologram was made using a fast and simple direct laser writing system and this means that the design is suitable to be used on the large-scale and in mass manufacture.
Professor Min Gu went on to say that integrating holography into electronics that are used every day is going to make screen size irrelevant. The professor said that a pop-up 3D hologram is able to display a lot of data that will not fit onto a phone or watch neatly. The professor added that he thought that holograms may have the potential for use in many different sectors.
Holograms may be used in anything from making medical diagnostics to data storage, education, defense and even cyber security. The professor said that 3D holography may have the potential to be able to transform many industries and the research could bring revolution just one step closer.
Many holograms are able to control the phase of light and this gives a 3D depth illusion. However, the professor said that to be able to generate enough phases of the light, which is known as a phase shift, the holograms would have to have a thickness of optical wavelengths.
The scientists at RMIT were able to break the limit of thickness with the hologram by making one that is only 25 nano meters in width. This thinness of the hologram was developed thanks to the use of a topological insulator material. This is a material that is able to hold a surface layer with low refractive index, with the ultra-high refractive index in the bulk. The topological insulator film is thin and this acts as the resonant cavity and it allows the enhancement of the phase shifts for the holographic images.
Co-author of the study, Dr Zengyi Yue, said that the next thing the team were going to do was come up with the development of a thin rigid film that may be put on the LCD display which would enable the 3D holographic display. He said that this would involve the shrinking of the nano-hologram pixel size and it would need to be shrunk about 10 times smaller.
The doctor said that beyond that they were looking into the creation of a flexible thin elastic film, that may be used on many different surfaces and this would then open up the horizons, along with broadening them for holographic applications.