Holograms could soon become the next hot smartphone feature

SEOUL, South Korea — Holograms could become the next hot smartphone feature after scientists say they’ve created new light sensors inside a camera. The sensor can detect the polarization of light to create 3D images without needing a bulky filter, according to the team in South Korea.

Until now, viewing holograms has only been possible using a large, specialized camera equipped with a polarizing filter. However, scientists at the Korea Institute of Science and Technology have come up with a solution which means they could soon become part of people’s daily lives.

“Research on the downsizing and integration of individual elements is required to ultimately miniaturize holographic systems. The results of our research will lay the foundation for the future development of miniaturized holographic camera sensor modules,” says study author Dr. Do Hwang in a media release.

Phone Holograms
Schematic diagram of bio-application holograms. (Credit: Korea Institute of Science and Technology)

How did scientists make a filter small enough for projecting holograms?

Digital and smartphone cameras contain a type of sensor called a photodiode which converts light into current signals. Giving these sensors the ability to sense polarized light would provide them with new information and give them the ability to store 3D holograms.

Previous attempts at enhancing these sensors in phones with polarized filters have missed the mark because they were simply too big. While the sensors measure less than a micrometer in size, the polarization filters are several hundred micrometers long.

To overcome this, the researchers developed photodiodes using two semiconductor materials, rhenium diselenide and tungsten diselenide — also known as n-type and p-type. This allowed the device to detect various wavelengths of light from ultraviolet to near-infrared.

It was even capable of detecting polarization characteristics in the near-infrared region, the study reveals. Researchers used the photodiodes to create an image sensor which proved capable of capturing holograms. Their new technology could open the door to a range of new visual technologies.

“The new sensor can further detect near-infrared light, as well as previously undetectable visible light, opening up new opportunities in various fields such as 3D night vision, self-driving, biotechnology, and near-infrared data acquisition for analyzing and restoring cultural assets,” concludes study co-author Dr. Min-Chul Park.

The findings are published in the journal ACS Nano.

South West News Service writer Tom Campbell contributed to this report.

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