Nano-holograms integrated in smart phones and televisions might become reality in the near future, suggest new findings that document the creation of the world’s thinnest hologram. The paper is published in the journal Nature Communications.
3D holography incorporated in electronics like smart phones sounds like an absolutely great idea, right? It may seem like an Iron-Man-movie or Agents-of-Shield type of technology (read fictional), but a team of Australian and Chinese researchers have come together to successfully design a nano-hologram 1,000 times thinner than your hair!
The team, led by Professor Min Gu from RMIT University, aimed at producing a hologram thin enough to be used in our electronic devices, given that existing ones used in computers are generally too large to fit in smaller gadgets. Also, Gu wanted the fabrication method to be a simple one: they used a fast direct laser writing system ideal for mass manufacture and large-scale use.
Now, apart from it being cool and all sci-fi, what makes having a hologram in smart phones useful? According to Gu, this would make screen size irrelevant: you would be able to view a larger display of data on a pop-up 3D hologram which would otherwise not fit on a small phone screen.
The nano-hologram would not be meant for personal use only. Rather, its application would extend to a number of industries from data storage and cyber security to interactive learning and medical diagnostics.
Creating an ideally thin hologram has not been an easy task. Conventional methods require holograms to be of specific thickness with respect to certain optical wavelengths so that they can be made 3D. The RMIT worked around this obstacle by making a hologram based on a topological insulator quantum material that allowed for a great reduction in thickness thanks to its ability of enhancing the phase shifts governing light wavelengths.
The next step is to now make a rigid thin film that would be placed onto an LCD screen to generate the hologram, explains co-author Dr Zengyi Yue. This will only be possible if the nano-hologram pixel size is reduced by a minimum of ten times. Furthermore, this film will have to be suitable for a variety of surfaces.