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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Optics department pursues 3-D television

    If you are still bummed because you missed the 3-D commercials during the Super Bowl, you may be in luck because researchers at the UA are one step closer to making 3-D TV a reality, only this time you won’t need the two-tone glasses.

    The UA optics department has taken a tip from sci-fi movies and is developing a new holography technique that has the potential to create three-dimensional television images.

    Pierre Alexandre Blanche is a research associate on the team that has developed the photorefractive polymer which is the foundation of the 3-D holograms they are producing.

    Once fully matured, the 3-D holograms will be applicable in many fields, namely in video rate displays and medical photography.

    The polymer base the team has developed is currently capable of recording images with lasers, raising them with a six inch by six inch display and then refreshing the image to change it.

    In the past, holograms have been created with crystals that could only be grown to a few cubic centimeters.

    The research team is the first to develop the technology capable of rewriting holograms.

    “”It is (like) the CDRW of CD writing,”” said Cory Christenson, a physics graduate student who is working on the project. “”We have on a computer, a set of perspectives that represent a 3-D object and we encode that info into laser beams and we shine that light onto the material.””

    Blanch said the photorefractive material has been 10 years in the making and is still very far away from the desired speed and size. The team began creating images two years ago and started with a half-inch by half-inch display. They hope to have a 1-foot by 1-foot display by the end of the year.

    It currently takes two minutes to write an image, which is about 120 times slower than they need, Blanche said. They hope to have the writing speed down to two seconds within five years and 30 hertz, video rate, within 10 years.

    “”The potential for having holographic display at video rate is here because we have the technology for making it,”” Blanche said.

    Blanche said the TV manufacturer Phillips is about to commercialize 3-D TV but is doing so in a different way than the research team at the UA is pursuing. Phillips is putting a degraded layer in front of the image on a high definition screen.

    “”(Their) third dimension is not great,”” Blanche said. “”Holography has the potential to see the real third dimension … to see the object inside the TV,””

    Blanche said the polymer technology will not only be targeted toward making 3-D TV.

    Right now there is equipment in the medical field that produces three-dimensional images, but there is no way to display them, and the research team hopes holography will be the technology to do that, Blanche said.

    “”That’s cool,”” said David Nelson, a UA physiology alumnus. “”I think that at the rate that technology is advancing right now there are going to be a lot of opportunities for this … 3-D television is cool but I think there will be a lot more useful applications later.””

    Blanche said that he is very excited to be working on the project. He said that it is the first time in his career that there has been so much interest in his work.

    “”When you are a scientist you publish something and nobody cares except the people in that exact field,”” Blanche said. “”We have a lot of coverage from the media and that is really exciting … that is kind of a big responsibility on our shoulders.””

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