The futuristic technology of sci-fi movies like Star Wars – with holographic images projected from your watch or phone – could soon become a reality.
In 2013, Swinburne researcher Dr Xiangping Li’s work revealed the tiny refractive index of graphene – a revolutionary material comprising a single-layer lattice of carbon atoms.
When Li’s group leader, Professor Min Gu, attended an optics conference in China later that year, they realised the implications of this research for 3D holographs.
Graphene’s tiny refractive index makes it possible to achieve a pixel size as small as 0.5 micrometre — somewhere between the size of a bacteria and a virus — when recording a hologram.
In China, Gu heard researchers from the Beijing Institute of Technology describe the challenge of creating holographic images with a large viewing angle that could be seen without glasses or other external assistance.
“I asked them how they could increase the viewing angle and they talked about reducing the pixel size,” says Gu. “We realised, ‘Ah, we can do that now!’.
The Chinese researchers were originally looking to increase the viewing angle for use in military technology.
However, the generation of wide-angle 3D images using graphene-based objects, with their flexibility and unusual electronic and optical properties, may also enable floating images to be projected from phones, screens and wearable mobile devices such as watches.
You can read more about these exciting advances here.
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