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An updatable holographic three-dimensional display


Holographic three-dimensional (3D) displays1,2 provide realistic images without the need for special eyewear, making them valuable tools for applications that require situational awareness, such as medical, industrial and military imaging. Currently commercially available holographic 3D displays3 use photopolymers that lack image-updating capability, resulting in restricted use and high cost. Photorefractive polymers4,5,6,7,8,9 are dynamic holographic recording materials that allow updating of images and have a wide range of applications, including optical correlation10, imaging through scattering media11 and optical communication12,13. To be suitable for 3D displays, photorefractive polymers need to have nearly 100% diffraction efficiency, fast writing time, hours of image persistence, rapid erasure, and large area—a combination of properties that has not been shown before. Here, we report an updatable holographic 3D display based on photorefractive polymers with such properties, capable of recording and displaying new images every few minutes. This is the largest photorefractive 3D display to date (4 × 4 inches in size); it can be recorded within a few minutes, viewed for several hours without the need for refreshing, and can be completely erased and updated with new images when desired.

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Figure 1: Diffraction efficiency and the photorefractive polymer thin-film device.
Figure 2: Recording dynamics of the photorefractive polymer and voltage kick-off.
Figure 3: Image processing, hologram recording and display.
Figure 4: Images from the updatable holographic 3D display.


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We acknowledge support by the US Air Force Office of Scientific Research and the Arizona TRIF Photonics programme. We thank A. Schulzgen, M. Eralp and W. J. Plesniak for discussions.

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Correspondence to Savaş Tay or N. Peyghambarian.

Supplementary information

Supplementary Video 1

The file contains Supplementary Video 1. This movie shows the operation of the updateable holographic 3D display. It includes 11 minutes of continuous, unaltered video. First, a 3D image is recorded to the 4x4inch PR polymer device and the 3D image is displayed as the video camera moves around the display on a circular track. Then the 3D image is erased using a uniform laser beam at 532nm. Following the erasure, a new 3D image is recorded onto the same area, demonstrating the updating capability of the 3D display. (MOV 76574 kb)

Supplementary Video 2

The file contains Supplementary Video 2. This movie shows several 3D images recorded onto the same PR polymer device. The time lapse covers a period of approximately 1.5 minutes in which the camera moves around the 3D display on a circular track to demonstrate the 3D effect (i.e. occlusion and parallax). (MOV 54280 kb)

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Tay, S., Blanche, PA., Voorakaranam, R. et al. An updatable holographic three-dimensional display. Nature 451, 694–698 (2008).

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