Nanoscale thin metal film creates full-color 3D holograms

Oct. 18, 2016
Missouri S&T researchers are creating a new approach to reconstruct 3D full-color holographic images.

Missouri University of Science and Technology (Rolla, MO) researchers are creating a new approach to reconstruct three-dimensional (3D) full-color holographic images by using just one layer of nanoscale metallic film. The group says the work has potential to change our daily lives by equipping our cell phones with 3D floating displays and printing 3D security marking onto credit cards.

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Xiaodong Yang, an assistant professor in mechanical and aerospace engineering at Missouri S&T, and Jie Gao, an assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at Missouri S&T, illustrate their approach by reproducing several full-color holographic images with nanometer-scale aluminum thin films. A nanometer is one billionth of a meter, and some nanomaterials are only a few atoms in size.

The method described in ACS Nano involves the use of ultrathin nanometer-scale metallic films with metasurfaces that can manipulate the wavefront of light. The researchers’ metasurface hologram is one 35-nanometer thick aluminum film punctured with tiny rectangular holes of 160 nm x 80 nm with different orientation angles created by a microfabrication process known as focused ion beam milling.

Experimenting with the interplay of red, green and blue laser light on metasurface structures, the researchers demonstrated "clean and vivid full-color holographic images with high resolution and low noise." The three RGB primary colors were produced, and the secondary colors of cyan, magenta, yellow and white also were produced. To illustrate their reconstructed holographic images, they made "CMYW" letters, an apple and a Rubik's cube.

"By adjusting the orientation angle of the nanoscale slits, we are able to fully tune the phase delay through the slit for realizing the phase modulation within the entire visible color range," says Yang. "In addition, the amplitude modulation is achieved by simply including or not including the slit. Our holograms contain both amplitude and phase modulations at nanometer scale so that high resolution and low noise holographic images can be reconstructed."

The researchers created the metasurface hologram by drilling out tiny rectangular slits with various orientation angles through the aluminum thin layer. Under a scanning electron microscope, the hologram looks like a needlepoint pattern.

"Different from the currently existing metasurface holograms which are mostly designed for limited colors, our wavelength-multiplexed methodby encoding additional phase shifts into the holograms and introducing tilted incident angle illumination of laser lightresults in the successful reconstruction of almost all visible colors," says Gao, co-author of the paper.

SOURCE: Missouri University of Science and Technology;

About the Author

Gail Overton | Senior Editor (2004-2020)

Gail has more than 30 years of engineering, marketing, product management, and editorial experience in the photonics and optical communications industry. Before joining the staff at Laser Focus World in 2004, she held many product management and product marketing roles in the fiber-optics industry, most notably at Hughes (El Segundo, CA), GTE Labs (Waltham, MA), Corning (Corning, NY), Photon Kinetics (Beaverton, OR), and Newport Corporation (Irvine, CA). During her marketing career, Gail published articles in WDM Solutions and Sensors magazine and traveled internationally to conduct product and sales training. Gail received her BS degree in physics, with an emphasis in optics, from San Diego State University in San Diego, CA in May 1986.

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