3D Holography May be Coming to Smartphones in the Near Future

LED technologies and smartphones are being pushed to their furthest and most useful edges together. It seems almost daily we are seeing stories about progressive tech using the finest materials to break new ground on what LEDs can do; from camera phones as thin as a paper to LEDs growing food in skyscrapers. 3-D holograms produced on smartphones are the latest in ground-breaking display technology.

Researchers from across the world worked to make this a possibility, uniting from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) and Beijing Institute of Technology (BIT). What they have developed is the thinnest nanometric hologram on record, which is a concept that really only became possible in the last few years due to technical challenges.

As was pointed out by the teams, holograms, in a normal sense, have been around for some time, but the tools needed to modulate the light waves were cumbersome. This limited the places in which hologram technology could be placed, and, of course, completely ruled out something as thin as a smartphone. But the joint group figured out how to create 60 nm holograms from a type of sophisticated topological insulator material. This allows, in theory, holographic images to jump from the thin flatness of a modern smartphone.

The results of the study were published in the journal Nature Communications, and its potential impact is huge. Hologram technology, if easily created, can have uses in everything from energy to medicine to communication.

Professor Min Gu (of RMIT) led the study, and one of the biggest points he made was how critical it was to make a hologram technology that could be replicated. He said, “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.”

The first time most people saw hand-held holographic technology was in 1977: Star Wars literally beamed the concept with the image of Princess Leia’s communication. That very idea, with the uncovering of Professor Gu’s research, seems startlingly close to reality. In no place may nano-hologram technology be more applicable (or coveted) than in consumer electronics. The possibilities there are boundless.

This hologram display technology has great potential to become even more refined. The researchers involved in this study believe they can actually continue to shrink the footprint of hologram creation devices by at least 10 times. The future for holograms is growing, and there is no limit in sight.

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