At the University of Utah, a team of electrical and computer engineers are working to bring holograms of science fiction lore into the everyday.
The team, led by associate professor Rajesh Menon, has found a way to create inexpensive full-color 2-D and 3-D holograms that are far more realistic, brighter, and sport a wider viewing angle than current holograms.
“You can have rich colors at high efficiency, with high brightness and at low cost. And you don’t need fancy lasers and complicated optics,” extolled Menon.
In the typical projection of any image, the white light that shines onto an object only reflects some of the color, while the rest is lost in absorption. For example, with a conventional LCD projector, less than five percent of total light is seen at one time.
Menon’s team discovered that a better way borrows from some butterflies, whose wings only display some of their colors – instead of reflecting only the colors that you see and absorbing the rest, all the white light is instead redirected so that you can see the wavelengths of the wing’s colors at different locations.
Utilizing sophisticated algorithms and a novel fabrication method, the team has created holograms that do the same thing, redirecting colors to their appropriate locations to project much brighter images with natural colors. Unlike current full-color holograms that require lasers, Menon’s holograms can be created with regular white light, and viewed from any angle without loss of image detail.
The applications for the technology are wide-ranging, from currency and identification badges to amusement rides and advertisements. While the team has only produced still images so far, they are now working on moving 3-D video, and expect it to be ready in less than two years.
For more information about this exciting project, click here.