Science Weekly: Holographic communications within reach

Kellie Plumhof

Star Wars movies were Lei Wang's first exposure to holograms. Wang leads a team of student physicists in creating holographic images with their invention. (Source: MovieStillsDB)

The world is one step closer to communicating via hologram, thanks to a group of physicists from The Australian National University. The team invented a small device which has the ability to create high-quality holographic images.

Lei Wang, the lead researcher and student at ANU, said that the images the team created were made using the invention and infrared technology.

Holograms are produced through manipulating light and have the ability to both save and reproduce information in a 3D image, compared to current 2D displays of information, such as computer screens or smartphones.

“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,” Wang said.

Sergey Kruk, co-lead researcher, said the invention is made of millions of small silicon pillars, which are 500 times thinner than human hair.

According to Kruk the new material is also transparent, which serves to prevent energy loss from light, and allows for the manipulations of 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,” Kruk said. “The holograms that we made demonstrate the strong potential of this technology to be used in a range of applications.”

According to Wang, the device could serve as a replacement to the current bulky camera equipment used on space crafts. This size reduction would not only cut costs but would also reduce the weight of the space craft itself.

“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 said.