“As a child, I learned about the concept of holographic imaging from the Star Wars movies,” says Lei Wang, a PhD student at the The Australian National University (ANU) Research School of Physics and Engineering. “It’s really cool to be working on an invention that uses the principles of holography depicted in those movies.”
Holograms of the highest quality ever seen are being created with a tiny new device, and a team of Australian Physicists.
For a quick explainer on what a hologram actually is: basically they allow all of the information carried by light to be stored, and reproduced – in 3D. But it’s not just useful for having Tupac show up at concerts 20 years after his death.
“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,” he said.
This means everything from miniture cameras to saving money on space missions through weight reduction of the optical systems on space craft.
Explaining more about the device itself, co-lead researcher Dr Sergey Kruk, from the ANU Research School of Physics and Engineering, said it is made up of millions of silicon pillars – up to 500 times thinner than a human hair.
“This new material is transparent, which means it loses minimal energy from the light, and it also does complex manipulations with light,” said Dr Kruk. “Our ability to structure materials at the nanoscale allows the device to achieve new optical properties that go beyond the properties of natural materials. The holograms that we made demonstrate the strong potential of this technology to be used in a range of applications.”
The design, fabrication and testing of the device was all carried out at ANU, with part of the research being a collaboration with the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the United States, and Nanjing University in China. The research is supported by the Australian Research Council.