Novel plastic could enable real-time 3D holographic projections without needing special glasses in the home by 2020

The challenge was to find a rewritable material that could store data encoding successive holographic images. Now Peyghambarian and his colleagues at the University of Arizona have developed a material that can record and display 3D images that refresh every two seconds

The team’s system captures 3D information by filming an object from multiple angles, using 16 cameras that each take an image of the object every second. The 16 views are processed into holographic pixel data by a computer, which sends a signal to two pulsed laser beams that then write the data into the recording material.

During the writing process, the two beams combine to create an interference pattern of light and dark patches in the recording material. Firing another light at the pattern reconstructs the 3D image.

They have modified the mix of polymers to develop a 17-inch display that refreshes more than a hundred times faster than in 2008, generating an image that changes in almost “real time”, says Peyghambarian.

Along with revolutionizing entertainment, the hologram technique will one day enable surgeons to remotely view live 3D images of operations and give advice. It might also find uses in manufacturing, allowing engineers to visualize and modify 3D models in real time.

There is a video at the University of Arizona

Eurekalert has the press release

MIT Technology Review has coverage

* they make a holographic pixel of 400 micrometres — better than a high-definition television

* The team is now working to speed up the refresh rate to match the 30 frames per second needed for movies, and to reduce the amount of power needed to read and write images

* Peyghambarian believes that some version of the system could be in homes within seven to ten years

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