Holographic three-dimensional telepresence using large-area photorefractive polymer

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Holography is a technique that is used to display objects or scenes in three dimensions. Such three-dimensional (3D) images, or holograms, can be seen with the unassisted eye and are very similar to how humans see the actual environment surrounding them. The concept of 3D telepresence, a real-time dynamic hologram depicting a scene occurring in a different location, has attracted considerable public interest since it was depicted in the original Star Wars film in 1977. However, the lack of sufficient computational power to produce realistic computer-generated holograms1 and the absence of large-area and dynamically updatable holographic recording media2 have prevented realization of the concept. Here we use a holographic stereographic technique3 and a photorefractive polymer material as the recording medium4 to demonstrate a holographic display that can refresh images every two seconds. A 50Hz nanosecond pulsed laser is used to write the holographic pixels5. Multicoloured holographic 3D images are produced by using angular multiplexing, and the full parallax display employs spatial multiplexing. 3D telepresence is demonstrated by taking multiple images from one location and transmitting the information via Ethernet to another location where the hologram is printed with the quasi-real-time dynamic 3D display. Further improvements could bring applications in telemedicine, prototyping, advertising, updatable 3D maps and entertainment.

At a glance


  1. Example of diffraction efficiency dynamics under single nanosecond pulse writing.
    Figure 1: Example of diffraction efficiency dynamics under single nanosecond pulse writing.

    The pulsed energy at the sample location was 650mJcm−2 (sum of both beams). Applied voltage to the photorefractive device was 7kV and kept constant during the whole measurement.

  2. Image from a hologram recorded with the pulsed system.
    Figure 2: Image from a hologram recorded with the pulsed system.

    Panels a, b, c respectively show images observed by the camera when pointed to the left, straight ahead, and to the right. This shows the 3D nature of the image (a model aeroplane) by demonstrating parallax and occlusions. Supplementary Movie 1 shows the recording at 50Hz and the display of the hologram.

  3. Pictures of coloured holograms.
    Figure 3: Pictures of coloured holograms.

    a, Hologram of two model cars recorded on a 12-inch-diameter photorefractive device in HPO geometry. b, Hologram of a vase and flowers.

  4. Full parallax recording sketch.
    Figure 4: Full parallax recording sketch.

    a, The lens array focuses the object beam onto the photorefractive device. The reference beam is redirected and focused by the HOE so that the lens array collimates the reference beams and they intersect the object beams in the plane of the device. be, Various perspectives of a full parallax hologram representing a castle and towers. Recording was done by simultaneously writing 100 hogels; perspectives are respectively up right (b), up left (c), down right (d) and down left (e).

  5. Telepresence system.
    Figure 5: Telepresence system.

    a, Picture of a hologram recorded with the 3D telepresence system. Supplementary Movie 2 shows the recording and the display of the telepresence hologram. b, Picture of a functional prototype of a 12inch × 12inch photorefractive device, held by W.-Y.H. Images of M.Y. (a) and W.-Y.H. (b) are used with permission.


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Author information


  1. College of Optical Sciences, The University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona 85721, USA

    • P.-A. Blanche,
    • A. Bablumian,
    • R. Voorakaranam,
    • C. Christenson,
    • J. Thomas,
    • R. A. Norwood &
    • N. Peyghambarian
  2. Nitto Denko Technical Corporation, Oceanside, California 92054, USA

    • W. Lin,
    • T. Gu,
    • D. Flores,
    • P. Wang,
    • W.-Y. Hsieh,
    • M. Kathaperumal,
    • B. Rachwal,
    • O. Siddiqui &
    • M. Yamamoto


P.-A.B. and A.B. did experimental work. R.V. did modelling and software. C.C., P.W. and M.K. did experimental work. W.L., T.G., D.F., W.-Y.H., B.R., O.S. and J.T. did sample preparation. R.A.N. and Y.Y. are team leaders. N.P. did project planning and management.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Supplementary information


  1. Supplementary Movie I (8.4M)

    This movie shows the rapid writing time of the 3D display system. It uses 6 nanosecond pulses at a repletion rate of 50Hz. It demonstrates that an image can be written in about 2 seconds.

  2. Supplementary Movie 2 (11.3M)

    This movie shows the concept of 3D telepresence. The 3D images of two of our researchers located in location A are sent via internet to another location B. Our 3D system at location B displays the two researchers. The movie is in real time and shows the speed of the entire process.


  1. Report this comment #15446

    Will Holst said:

    One step closer to a Holographic TV! Very cool! Here's another video on their work...


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