CANBERRA, Australia, Jan. 30, 2017 — Australian National University (ANU) physicists have invented a tiny device that creates the highest quality holographic images ever achieved, opening the door to imaging technologies often seen in science fiction movies.
Australian researchers have made a breakthrough in holographic technology. Courtesy of ANU.
"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 Lei Wang, a Ph.D. student and lead researcher at the ANU Research School of Physics and Engineering.
Holograms perform the most complex manipulations of light. They enable the storing and reproduction of all information carried by light in 3D. In contrast, standard photographs and computer monitors capture and display only a portion of 2D information.
Wang said, “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.”
The device consists of millions of tiny silicon pillars, each up to 500× thinner than a human hair, and projects complex holographic images in infrared.
Sergey Kruk, a researcher from the ANU Research School of Physics and Engineering said the material used is transparent, loses minimal energy from the light and does complex manipulations with light.
“Our ability to structure materials at the nanoscale allows the device to achieve new optical properties that go beyond the properties of natural materials,” said Kruk. “The holograms that we made demonstrate the strong potential of this technology to be used in a range of applications."
The device could replace bulky components to miniaturize cameras and save costs in astronomical missions by reducing the size and weight of optical systems on space craft.
The research has been published in the journal Optica as a Memorandum, a special announcement of scientific breakthroughs (doi.org/10.1364/OPTICA.3.001504).