Holograms You Can Actually Touch Are Here


Written by Jeff Roberts

It’s every science-fiction lover’s dream, holograms tangible enough to touch.

Principle Investigator Yoichi Ochiai and his fellow researchers at DNG have found a way to use lasers, mirrors and cameras to create three-dimensional, interactive holograms comprised of tiny points of light called voxels.

Using femtosecond lasers (a femtosecond is a quadrillionth of a second, and the lasers transmit bursts that last 30 to 270 femtoseconds), the team can make holograms that are safe to touch, Popular Science reports.

The images are three-dimensional, with resolutions up to 200,000 dots per second. The voxels are light emitted by plasma that’s created when the laser’s focused energy ionizes the air.

According to Ochiai, when touched the hologram’s texture feels like sandpaper.

Although previous studies have used nanosecond and femtosecond lasers to create images, the DNG researchers say preceding studies haven’t achieved resolution this high, and would otherwise burn human skin.

Since the lasers fire at such a high speeds, they’re able to react in real-time, and researchers have demonstrated its ability to make usable holographic checkboxes and hearts that break when touched.


To create their hologram, researchers fired their femtosecond laser through a spatial light modulator, which continues the beam through a series of lenses, a mirror and a Galvano scanner, which positions a mirror to precisely direct the laser beams. A camera underneath the hologram captures user interaction, allowing the dots to respond to being “touched.”

Ochiai says the most surprising thing he realized was that plasma was actually safe to touch in this application, making the hologram exponentially safer than previously thought.

Ochiai says this is machine is just a proof of concept, and now his team will work to make the holograms larger. They’re limited by the size of the spatial light modulator, which they maxed out with this experiment. The laser itself can transmit up to 7W, and this 1 cubic centimeter experiment only used 1W of the laser’s power.

What are your thoughts on the touchable hologram? What kind of implications could this spell for the future? Share with us in the comment section below!

Source: Popular Science

Originally posted @ Collective Evolution


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