New Printer Creates Extremely Realistic Colorful Holograms

The new printer uses low-power continuous wave lasers to create holograms on a highly sensitive photomaterial developed by the researchers. (Image: C Yves GENTET)
The new printer uses low-power continuous wave lasers to create holograms on a highly sensitive photomaterial developed by the researchers. (Image: C Yves GENTET)

Researchers have developed a new printer that produces digital 3D holograms with an unprecedented level of detail and realistic color. The new printer could be used to make high-resolution color recreations of objects or scenes for museum displays, architectural models, fine art, or advertisements that do not require glasses or special viewing aids.

Research team leader Yves Gentet, from Ultimate Holography in France, said:

In The Optical Society (OSA) journal Applied Optics, the researchers describe the new printer, which creates holograms with wide fields of view and full parallax on a special photographic material they designed. Full parallax holograms reconstruct an object so that it is viewable in all directions, in this case with a field of view spanning 120 degrees.

The new printer uses low-power continuous wave lasers to create holograms on a highly sensitive photomaterial developed by the researchers. (Image: C Yves GENTET)

The new printer uses low-power continuous wave lasers to create holograms on a highly sensitive photomaterial developed by the researchers. (Image: C Yves GENTET)

The printer can create holograms from 3D computer-generated models or from scans acquired with a dedicated scanner developed by the researchers. The high-quality holograms can even be used as masters to produce holographic copies.

Building a better printer

When developing the new hologram printer, the researchers carefully studied two previously developed holographic printer technologies to understand their advantages and drawbacks. Gentet said:

The CHIMERA printer uses red, green, and blue low-power commercially available continuous wave lasers with shutters that adjust the exposure for each laser in a matter of milliseconds. The researchers also created a special anti-vibrating mechanical system to keep the holographic plate from moving during the recording.

Holograms are created by recording small holographic elements known as hogels, one after another, using three spatial light modulators and a custom-designed full-color optical printing head that enables the 120-degree parallax. After printing, the holograms are developed in chemical baths and sealed for protection.

Researchers developed a new system that prints holograms such as the one shown with an unprecedented level of detail and realistic color. (Image: C Yves GENTET)

Researchers developed a new system that prints holograms such as the one shown with an unprecedented level of detail and realistic color. (Image: C Yves GENTET)

The hogel size can be toggled between 250 and 500 microns and the printing rate adjusted from 1 to 50 hertz (Hz). For example, if a hogel size of 250 microns is used, the maximum printing speed is 50 Hz. At this speed, it would take 11 hours to print a hologram measuring 30 by 40 centimeters, about half of the time it would take using previous systems based on pulsed lasers.

High brightness and clarity

The researchers used the new technology to print holograms that measured up to 60 by 80 centimeters showing various color objects including toys, a butterfly, and a museum object. Gentet added:

The researchers say that as technology improves, especially 3D software, it may be possible to expand their hologram printing approach to medical or other advanced applications.

Provided by: The Optical Society [Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.]

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