Good news science-fiction fans; it sounds like hologram technology isn’t far off from being a real thing!
Wait, real-time holograms might exist soon?!
Yup! Some extremely talented researches at the University of Cambridge have been playing with pixel elements and have figured out a way to manipulate displays at the individual pixel level, which makes the display of real-time holograms possible. Folks interested in the fully-technical explanation can view the results of the research in the journal Physica Status Solidi, which can be found here.
Umm, what’s a hologram?
A hologram is created when light bounces off a sheet of material with grooves in just the right spot to project an image away from the surface. When a hologram is viewed from inside this artificially generated light field, it gives the viewer the visual impression of an object directly in front of them on a three-dimensional plane.
Unfortunately, holograms are currently limited by tech that allows control of light at the individual pixel level. Specifically, a hologram encodes a massive amount of information and a dynamic representation of a hologram would require that mass of information to be controlled on a display device.
“In a typical liquid crystal on silicon display, the pixels’ electronics, or backplane, provides little optical functionality other than reflecting light,” said the research paper’s author Calum Williams, a PhD student at Cambridge’s Department of Engineering, “This means that a large amount of surface area is being underutilized, which could be used to store information.”
But there’s hope, right?
Thankfully, Williams and his colleagues have achieved a much greater control over holograms through plasmonics, which is the study of how light interacts with metals on the nanoscopic level. This allows the researchers to exceed the limits of conventional optical technology.
The work of these researchers more or less opens the doors for the kinds of hologram technology that we have enjoyed in science fiction novels and movies for years. Give it 10 or 15 years and we’ll all be discovering new elements through massive hologram displays like Tony Stark did in Iron Man 2.