Australian, Chinese researchers develop world’s thinnest hologram

May 19, 2017 - 2:37 PM
A sample of a hologram image from a mobile device.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA | An Australian-Chinese research team has developed the world’s thinnest hologram, it was announced on Friday.

With the collaborative effort between the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) university and the Beijing Institute of Technology (BIT), the team designed a nano-hologram that can be seen without three-dimensional (3D) glasses and is 1,000 times thinner than a human hair.

Min Gu, the research leader, is optimistic that the development will lead to the integration of 3D holography into everyday electronics.

“Conventional computer-generated holograms are too big for electronic devices but our ultrathin 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.

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

“From medical diagnostics to education, data storage, defence and cyber security, 3D holography has the potential to transform a range of industries and this research brings that revolution one critical step closer.”

Traditionally holograms have needed to be the thickness of hologram wavelengths in order to give the illusion of 3D depth.

RMIT and BIT broke the thickness limit by developing their nanometre hologram based on an insulator material that holds a low refractive index on the surface layer but a high index in the bulk.

“The next stage for this research will be developing a rigid thin film that could be laid onto an LCD screen to enable 3D holographic display,” Zengyi Yue from the BIT said.

“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.”