Scientists for the first time have created a technology that can display true, high resolution colour holograms but Hollywood holograms are still a way off.


By carefully arranging nanoblocks to display pixels on a metasurface, researchers have demonstrated that they can manipulate incoming visible light in just the right way to create a colour hologram, known as a “Meta Hologram” and the new technique could lead to true, high definition colour holograms that  that have applications for various types of 3D colour holographic displays and achromatic planar lenses.


Fig 1. A Nanoblock creating a meta-hologram


The researchers, Bo Wang et al., from Peking University and the National Center for Nanoscience and Technology, both in China, have published a paper on the new type of hologram in a recent issue of Nano Letters.


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The pixels on the new metasurface consist of three types of silicon nanoblocks whose precise dimensions correspond to the wavelengths of three different colors: red, green, and blue. To enhance the efficiency for the blue light, two identical nanoblocks corresponding to the blue light are arranged in each pixel, along with one nanoblock for red light and one for green light.

The researchers explain that each pixel of light can be thought of as a “meta-molecule” and that hese meta-molecules let the metasurface control light in ways that aren’t possible without nanoscale design so when red, green, and blue lasers illuminate the hologram, each nanoblock manipulates the phase of its corresponding colour. The researchers explain that a key achievement of the study was to minimize the interactions between nanoblocks so that the nanoblocks function almost independently of each other. Then by orienting the nanoblocks in different ways, the researchers could change the light’s phase manipulation, resulting in different holographic images.


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“Our work provides an approach for realizing the almost independent manipulation of phased light for different visible wavelengths,” said coauthor Yan Li, at Peking University.

The researchers demonstrated that the nanoblock approach can be used to create two different types of holograms. In an achromatic hologram, the entire reconstructed image is in one colour and by balancing the relative input of the three colours, they could achieve a wide variety of colours. In the second type of hologram, called a highly dispersive hologram, different parts of the reconstructed image have different colours – for example, a red flower, green stem, and blue container.

The new colour hologram has a variety of potential applications where this type of light manipulation is useful, such as 3D colour holograms, achromatic lenses, and anti-conterfeiting products. The researchers plan to pursue these applications in future work.

“Based on this idea and approach, novel real planar optical devices may be fabricated to realize many novel or extra functions in the future,” Weiguo Chu at the National Center for Nanoscience and Technology said.

About author

Matthew Griffin

Matthew Griffin, described as “The Adviser behind the Advisers” and a “Young Kurzweil,” is the founder and CEO of the World Futures Forum and the 311 Institute, a global Futures and Deep Futures consultancy working between the dates of 2020 to 2070, and is an award winning futurist, and author of “Codex of the Future” series. Regularly featured in the global media, including AP, BBC, Bloomberg, CNBC, Discovery, RT, Viacom, and WIRED, Matthew’s ability to identify, track, and explain the impacts of hundreds of revolutionary emerging technologies on global culture, industry and society, is unparalleled. Recognised for the past six years as one of the world’s foremost futurists, innovation and strategy experts Matthew is an international speaker who helps governments, investors, multi-nationals and regulators around the world envision, build and lead an inclusive, sustainable future. A rare talent Matthew’s recent work includes mentoring Lunar XPrize teams, re-envisioning global education and training with the G20, and helping the world’s largest organisations envision and ideate the future of their products and services, industries, and countries. Matthew's clients include three Prime Ministers and several governments, including the G7, Accenture, Aon, Bain & Co, BCG, Credit Suisse, Dell EMC, Dentons, Deloitte, E&Y, GEMS, Huawei, JPMorgan Chase, KPMG, Lego, McKinsey, PWC, Qualcomm, SAP, Samsung, Sopra Steria, T-Mobile, and many more.

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