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Cheap, Color, Holographic Video

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A hologram of a butterfly.

A hologram of a butterfly displayed on the MIT researchers' new holographic display.

Credit: Daniel Smalley

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Media Lab have developed a way to create holograms that could significantly lower the cost of color holographic-video displays and boost conventional 2D display resolution.

Media Lab graduate student Daniel Smalley created an optical chip that costs about $10, which he is using to create a prototype color holographic-video display with a resolution that approximates that of a standard-definition TV. He says the display will update video images 30 times per second, creating the illusion of motion.

Smalley's work builds on Media Lab professor Stephen Benton's Mark-II display, which uses acousto-optic modulation to send carefully engineered sound waves through a tellurium dioxide crystal. Smalley uses a much smaller crystal of lithium niobate, and creates microscopic channels called waveguides just under the crystal's surface, with a metal electrode on each waveguide. The waveguides confine the light traveling through them, and each waveguide corresponds to a row of pixels in the final hologram. Red, green, and blue light travel down the waveguide, with acoustic wave frequencies traveling through the crystal determining which colors continue and which are filtered out.

Smalley's work improves the space-bandwidth product by a factor of 500, which "has the potential to be a game-changer," says University of Arizona professor Pierre Blanche.

From MIT News
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