06.02.15

Breakthrough made in creating affordable holographic video

Researchers in the U.S. believe they have made a significant breakthrough in making holographic video displays larger and more affordable, according to report in the International Business Times. At present the only widely available way to see holographic 3D video is through a headset such as Oculus Rift or Samsung Gear VR.

Hologram creation technology does currently exist but the cost to render recorded video footage or 3D animations is prohibitive. There is also the added health and safety risk of exposing viewers direct to lasers. 

A research team from Brigham Young University in Utah and MIT has looked at using light, which can be manipulated through reflection, refraction and diffraction.

Diffraction enables almost any type of lines to be bent in order to filter light and it is this property that the researchers have taken advantage of.

A special type of crystal called lithium niobate (LiNbO3) boasts impressive optical properties and beneath the surface of the crystal, microscopic channels, or 'waveguides', are created to confine light passing through.

The researchers discovered that by depositing a metal electrode on to each waveguide, it was possible to produce surface acoustic waves that divide the colour frequencies in such a way, a new type of colour display is possible.

Daniel Smalley, an assistant professor of electrical engineering at BYU, told IBT: "For a wavelength display, we don't need to rely on colour filter wheels or dedicated red and blue pixels."

Rather than using a colour wheel, the researchers can use surface acoustic waves to create any colour combination they like, just by altering the frequency of the signal sent to the "white waveguide pixel".

"[This means] we can colour the output of our display by 'colouring' the frequencies of the drive signal, [and] as a bonus, this interaction also rotates the polarisation of the signal light so that we can use a polariser to eliminate any noise in the system," he added.

"We can use this technology to make simple and inexpensive colour waveguide displays – including inexpensive holographic video displays. This can drop the cost of a holographic video display from tens of thousands of dollars to less than a thousand."

And if it is possible to make holographic video displays much cheaper, then the technology can be used to make much larger displays than currently possible.