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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    As good as ‘Star Wars’

    UA researchers have revolutionized the field of holography by being the first to create three-dimensional holograms that are rewritable in a matter of minutes.

    “”This rewriteability is what made it so significant,”” said optical sciences professor Nasser Peyghambarian. “”It allows you to go into areas you couldn’t do before.””

    The images are created with two lasers and are changeable, as opposed to the two-dimensional images permanently printed on credit cards, Peyghambarian said.

    He said the technology is similar to theat immortalized in “”Star Wars.””

    “”R2-D2 projects an image of Princess Leia out of thin air,”” Peyghambarian said. “”That’s science fiction that now is reality.””

    He said he is very excited about the multitude of applications this technology can be used for.

    Right now MRI and CT scans have three-dimensional information available, but have to print it out in two dimensions, Peyghambarian said.

    Refreshable holograms could be used during a surgery, as doctors could view updated information projected in three dimensions while the surgery is taking place, he said.

    “”With our technology, they can look at the whole image,”” Peyghambarian said. “”All of that information can be looked at. I can imagine every hospital in the world will want to have something like that because they can look at it in almost real-time.””

    “”We believe it can have great impact in education,”” said researcher Pierre-Alexandre Blanche.

    The rewritable technology will also have military defense applications, Peyghambarian said.

    “”Commanders could look at holograms of the battle stage, move things around and look at changed scenery in a matter of minutes,”” Peyghambarian said.

    Part of the research is being funded through the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, he said.

    Blanche said the military will use the technology to create and control 3-D maps, and refresh it to see the progression of troops in almost real-time.

    “”Instead of a screen with tiny dots, you will have (a) full 3-D map,”” Blanche said.

    The holograms could also be used for entertainment, advertising and training, he said.

    Peyghambarian said in about five years practical applications for refreshable holograms will be a reality.

    The holograms can be seen in green and red, and are 4-by-4 inches in size, with each pixel about a millimeter large.

    Anything can be digitized into a hologram by taking pictures from various perspectives and digitizing it into the system, Peyghambarian said.

    So far, researchers have made images of a skull, car and Air Force fighter jets, among other objects.

    “”Most people, when they see the three-dimensional display, are like, ‘Oh, it’s like ‘Star Wars!'”” Blanche said. “”But right now the writing and refreshing is not video-rate.””

    An image can currently be refreshed in about five minutes, but Blanche said they hope to shrink the time to under 30 seconds in a few years.

    The next step is to create 12-by-12-inch images in two colors, while striving for the ultimate goal of moving images in full color, Peyghambarian said.

    “”That’s the Holy Grail of all these things,”” he said. “”That would be a multi-million dollar business.””

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