Researchers are Developing a Holographic 3D Display for Mobile Devices

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The increasing popularity of augmented reality has shown that we understand 3D best when it is presented to us in 3D. That’s why, as convenient and powerful as smartphones have become in recent years, they’re still imperfect devices for the industries we focus on here at SPAR 3D. But what if they had holographic screens that allowed us to view data in full 3D without any extra hardware?

It’s possible now that scientists from Australia and China have developed a “nano-hologram that is simple to make, can be seen without 3D goggles, and is 1000 times thinner than a human hair.”

“Conventional computer-generated holograms are too big for electronic devices,” said RMIT University distinguished professor Min Gu, who leads the research team. “But our ultra-thin hologram overcomes those size barriers.” Dr. Gu also noted that integrating holograms into every day electronics would “make screen size irrelevant,” since it would allow a pop-up 3D display larger than the device itself.

Here’s how the team explains the mechanics that make it possible (if you can understand this, you have a much better grasp of physics than I do). The “25 nanometre hologram [is]based on a topological insulator material – a novel quantum material that holds the low refractive index in the surface layer but the ultrahigh refractive index in the bulk.”

The hologram is still in the R&D phase, so it isn’t quite ready for mobile consumer devices. Dr. Gu says the next step of the research is developing a “thin, rigid film that can be laid on top of an LCD screen to enable 3D holographic display.” Unfortunately, that requires making the pixels in the device “at least 10 times smaller.”

For more information, see the research published in Nature Communications on the 18th of May.

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About Author

SPAR 3D Editor Sean Higgins produces SPAR 3D's weekly newsletters for 3D-scanning professionals, and spar3d.com. Sean has previously worked as a technical writer, a researcher, a freelance technology writer, and an editor for various arts publications. He has degrees from Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts and the University of Aberdeen in Scotland, where he studied the history of sound-recording technologies. Sean is a native of Maine and lives in Portland.

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