A joint Australian-Chinese team based out of the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology has managed to make the world’s tiniest holographic projector. Their creation, which they dub a nano-hologram, is only 25 nanometers thick. In comparison, a human hair measure in at around 80,000 – 100,000 nanometers thick.
Holography, the science and practice of making holograms, is both a tricky and complicated thing. To make a hologram, you need to be able to modulate a phase of light in order to give the illusion of three-dimensional depth. You are thus typically restrained by the wavelength of light itself. Violet light has a wavelength of 400nm, while red light has a wavelength of 650nm. Light outside of these wavelengths, can’t be seen by the human eye. For instance, an x-ray measures 10 nanometers in length, which means we can’t actually see the beam hit us when we go to a doctor’s office or hospital. Because of this, a holographic projector typically needs to be large enough to produce light at a visible wavelength.
Working with the Beijing Institute of Technology, the researchers at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology were able to break the typical limit and created their 25-nanometer holographic projector. To do so, the team needed to create a special material that essentially scales light. The material, which coats a holographic projector and/or phone, is highly refractive. Essentially, it allows the team to project light at 25 nanometers, but have it emerge from the material at a much larger (within our visible range) size.
According to their paper published in Nature Communications, the technology means that we may all soon be able to have mobile devices capable of projecting robust and detailed holographic images. No longer would our work and entertainment be limited to the size of our phone screen, as it could all be projected via hologram to whatever size needed. It may only be a matter of time until you’re reenacting a scene from Star Wars.
Images: LucasFilms, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology
Source: Sky News