Imagine that billboards, computer screens, medical imaging devices and television could display holograms in 3-D. That is what research scientists in the University of Arizona's College of Optical Sciences are working towards in the 3-D Display Laboratory.
In 2008 the team used a powerful laser to write the first holographic image onto a special material. The holographic image fades away in a matter of minutes, and the laser can refresh and write a new image every four minutes on the same material surface, a 6 x 6 inch piece of glass coated in a special polymer. The aim is to develop a more powerful laser and more sensitive material to write 30 images or frames per second, the frame rate of video and television.
Assistant Research Professor Pierre Blanche says "Since the beginning, our target is going video rate, because with that we can address the consumer market and have the 3-D holographic television everybody is dreaming of". Blanche says there are many possible applications for this technology. Blanche expects medical imaging, and military applications will come first, until the cost of the technology is driven down, to be accessible to consumers.
Blanche says the military is invested in the 3-D display Laboratory in the form of grants. He says the United States Air Force already uses holographic battle maps in Afghanistan. "Those battle maps already exist, but they are static. What they want is update-able battle maps, so when new intelligence comes in they can update it".
Find out how these holograms are made, and what the future might look like in 3-D.
Producer: Heather Wodrich | Videographers: Heather Wodrich and Jon Dineyazhe | Editor: Lauren Bays