WHY THIS MATTERS IN BRIEF
Holograms are a sci-fi staple but manipulating light to create 3D effects is one of the most complicated challenges scientists face, now a breakthrough might take us one step closer.
As we move from the era of silicon based computing to photonics Holograms, which are arguably the most complex form of manipulating light in 3D are at the forefront of the new revolution. They appear in almost every science fiction movie, from Star Wars to Star Trek, and now, thanks to researchers from the Australian National University (ANU), we might be one step closer to recreating them. That said though it’s still evident that we have a long road ahead of us.
The ANU team have developed a new, small, ultra portable device that can produce the highest quality holograms to ever seen..
“As a child, I learned about the concept of holographic imaging from the Star Wars movies. It’s really cool to be working on an invention that uses the principles of holography depicted in those movies,” said lead researcher Lei Want, from ANU’s Research School of Physics and Engineering. The team published their research in the journal Optica.
Wang’s device can create high quality hologram images in infrared, using “transparent metaholograms based on silicon metasurfaces that allow high-resolution grayscale images to be encoded,” according to the study. The teams device is also quite small, and it’s made up of millions of tiny silicon pillars, which are up to 500 times thinner than human hair.
“This new material is transparent, which means it loses minimal energy from the light, and it also does complex manipulations with light,” said co-researcher Sergey Kruk, “our ability to structure materials at the nanoscale allows the device to achieve new optical properties that go beyond the properties of natural materials. The holograms that we made demonstrate the strong potential of this technology to be used in a range of applications.”
The real-life applications of such a hologram device aren’t too far from the sci-fi counterparts.
“While research in holography plays an important role in the development of futuristic displays and augmented reality devices, today we are working on many other applications such as ultra-thin and light-weight optical devices for cameras and satellites,” Wang said.
You can think of Holography as another form of Augmented Reality or even Virtual Reality because all of them let us interact with new immersive worlds, and new experiences in new ways so hopefully it won’t be too long before we’re standing in the middle of a stadium watching the game as though we’re really there – without the bulky VR goggles, even if companies are trying to turn them invisible.