MIT Scientists Close to Creating Holograms By Using Sound to Manipulate Light
Although 3-D films are all the rage these days, we still haven't actually mastered holography, or holograms, as they're affectionately known in science fiction. This refers to bonafide "Help Me Obi-Wan Kenobi"-type three-dimensional video, which we haven't yet achieved. In the case of both 3-D films and that performance by Tupac at Coachella, the images are still two-dimensional, but the mind is tricked into thinking that they're three-dimensional using basic illusion techniques.
Now, in a study published today in Review of Scientific Instruments, MIT scientists claim they're close to creating legitimate holographic video by using sound waves to guide, shape, and even color light waves. The concept of using sound waves in holography is not a new one, but the research team, led by electrical engineer Daniel Smalley, believes that they have perfected the technique. Their new prototype apparatus, Mark II, as well as its holographic abilities, are demonstrated in the video below:
In order to create the holographic images, the light is reflected off of lithium niobate, a crystal with specific optical properties. Underneath the surface of the crystal, small light-guiding channels called "waveguides" are bookended with metal electrodes, which produce the surface acoustic waves.
According to Smalley, his technology could not only make holograms possible, but could also make all video display technology easier and less expensive to manufacture: "We can use this technology to make simple and inexpensive color waveguide displays-including inexpensive holographic video displays. This can drop the cost of a holographic video display from tens of thousands of dollars to less than a thousand."