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World's thinnest hologram will make screen size 'irrelevant'

19 Mai 2017

An Australian-Chinese research team has developed the world " s thinnest hologram, China " s Xinhua news agency reported.

Moving 3D holograms have always been the stuff of science fiction - from Star Wars to Iron Man - but we could be a step close to seeing them in everyday life.

The "nano-hologram" is set apart from other holograms because it can be seen without 3D goggles, and it measures just 25 nanometres, roughly 1,000 nanometres thinner than a human hair.

"Conventional computer-generated holograms are too big for electronic devices but our ultra-thin hologram overcomes those size barriers", Gu said in a media release on Friday. "Our nano-hologram is also fabricated using a simple and fast direct laser writing system, which makes our design suitable for large-scale uses and mass manufacture".

These "floating images" were created by research teams at Melbourne's specialist technology university RMIT and the Beijing Institute of Technology. But to do so, the holograms need to be the thickness of optical wavelengths.

Their topological insulator material has a low refractive index in its surface layer but an ultrahigh refractive index throughout, so acts as an "intrinsic optical resonant cavity".

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The next stage is to create a rigid film that can be laid onto an LCD screen to project a 3D holographic display, said Zengji Yue and Gaolei Xue, co-authors of the paper and researchers at BIT.

Integrating holography into everyday electronics would make screen size irrelevant - a pop-up 3D hologram can display a wealth of data that does not neatly fit on a phone or watch.

"This involves shrinking our nano-hologram " s pixel size, making it at least 10 times smaller. "But beyond that, we are looking to create flexible and elastic thin films that could be used on a whole range of surfaces, opening up the horizons of holographic applications".

So, how long before our smartphones get 3D display capabilities?

The technology could transform a number of industries, Gu said. "If there's a proper partner, in five years' time we could see some real products".

World's thinnest hologram will make screen size 'irrelevant'