Posted in | Optics and Photonics

ANU's New Miniature Device Paves Way for Sci-Fi Holograms

Dr. Sergey Kruk (image credit: Jamie Kidston, ANU)

Physicists at ANU have invented a tiny device that produces the highest quality holographic images ever achieved. This opens the door for imaging technologies only seen in sci-fi movies such as Star Wars.

Lei Wang, the lead researcher, explained that the team produced intricate holographic images in infrared using the invention that could be developed with the help of industry.

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.

Lei Wang, PhD Student, ANU Research School of Physics and Engineering

Holograms are capable of performing maximum complex manipulations of light. They enable all information carried by light to be stored and reproduced in 3D. In contrast, standard photographs and computer monitors capture and display just a portion of 2D information.

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.

Lei Wang, PhD Student, ANU Research School of Physics and Engineering

Mr Wang said the device could substitute bulky parts to greatly reduce the size of cameras and save costs in space missions by decreasing the weight and size of optical systems on space craft.

Co-lead researcher Dr Sergey Kruk said the device is made up of millions of miniature silicon pillars. Each pillar measures 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. 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.

Dr Sergey Kruk, ANU Research School of Physics and Engineering

Dr Kruk said ANU led the device’s design, fabrication and optical testing. The research was partially conducted in partnership with the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the United States and Nanjing University in China.

The research is supported by the Australian Research Council and is published in Optica as a Memorandum, a special announcement of scientific breakthroughs.

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