Physicists from the Australian National University (ANU) have used infrared to invent a device that creates the highest-quality of holographic images ever created.
Lead researcher and PhD student at the ANU Research School of Physics and Engineering Lei Wang touted the complex holographic image advancement as opening the door to imaging technologies such as those seen in science fiction movies. Wang said,
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.
According to the university, holograms perform the most complex manipulations of light and enable the storing and reproduction of all information carried by light in 3D; standard photographs and computer monitors, however, capture and display only a portion of 2D information. Wang further added,
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.
Wang noted that 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 spacecraft.
Co-lead researcher Dr. Sergey Kruk said the device consisted of millions of tiny silicon pillars, each up to 500 times thinner than a human hair. He added,
This new material is transparent, which means it loses minimal energy from the light, and it also does complex manipulations with light. Our ability to structure materials at the nano-scale 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.
Kruk said ANU led the design, fabrication and optical testing of the device, and part of the research was conducted in collaboration with the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the United States and Nanjing University in China with the research supported by the Australian Research Council and published in Optica as a memorandum, a special announcement of scientific breakthroughs.