Tiny Invention Pushes Lifelike Holograms Closer to Reality

Wednesday, 25 January 2017 - 7:28PM
Wednesday, 25 January 2017 - 7:28PM
Tiny Invention Pushes Lifelike Holograms Closer to Reality
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For any Star Wars fans out there, a new piece of real world hologram technology is springing up from the iconic series. Scientists at the Australian National University (ANU) have developed a new, minuscule device capable of producing high-quality, 3D holograms - much like the holograms used to view the Death Star Plans. 

An important part of the device is its precision, using millions of "tiny silicon pillars" as they describe it, each of them 500 times thinner than a strand of hair. Co-lead researcher Dr. Sergey Kruk explains, "this new material is transparent, which means it loses minimal energy from the light, and it also does complex manipulations with light."

Lead researcher Lei Wang notes that he was, in fact, directly inspired by the original Star Wars trilogy, having learned about the concept of holographic imaging through watching the films as a kid. The footage of Princess Leia's famous "Help me Obi-Wan" speech even plays on their computers in a video they provided. And not only is it cool - it's practical too. Wang continues:
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"While research in holography plays and 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."
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Wang is optimistic about the widespread uses of this new technology, and thinks this small scale could help limit the load on astronomical missions, among many other scientific uses. "Our ability to structure materials at the nanoscale allows the device to achieve new optical properties that go beyond properties of natural materials. The holograms that we made demonstrate the strong potential of this technology to be used in a range of applications." adds Kruk. 

We can't wait until holograms hit the shelves so we can replicate the Death Star Plans scene in our own homes. The full study was published open access in Optica.


Image: Lei Wang, ANU