Three-dimensional holographic images are a mainstay in sci-fi films, from Princess Leia’s cry for help in Star Wars, to the holographic maps in Avatar. But in real life, we’ve struggled to achieve the same effect without the use of annoying 3D glasses. Now scientists from Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, Australia have used a graphene-based material to create a full-colour, pop-up, 3D floating display – visible from a wide angle with the naked eye. The effect was created using a graphene oxide, and could be applied to the touch-screen surface of smartphones or watches, the authors Min Gu and Xiangping Li explain over at The Conversation.
Holograms work by bending light off the screen in a carefully controlled way so that, instead of bouncing directly back into your eye, it makes it appear as though it’s projected off a separate display. The Swinburne researchers were able to create the floating 3D display by tweaking the refractive index – the measure of how much light bends as it passes through a medium – of graphene oxide. This allowed them to create tiny, nanoscale pixels that make up floating 3D images, visible to the naked eye.
“If you can change the refractive index you can create lots of optical effects,” said Gu in a press release. “Our technique can be leveraged to achieve compact and versatile optical components for controlling light. We can create the wide angle display necessary for mobile phones and tablets.” Edited from ScienceAlert and Swinburne