A team of physicists from the Australian National University (ANU) have created a device that produces the highest quality holographic images in the world. According to them, this could pave the way to technologies that are currently only seen in science fiction movies like Star Wars.

“As a child, I learned about the concept of holographic imaging from the Star Wars movies. It’s really cool to be working on an invention that uses the principles of holography depicted in those movies,” said lead researcher Lei Wang, a PhD student at the ANU Research School of Physics and Engineering.

According to the scientists, holograms enable the storing and reproduction of all information carried by light in 3D. In comparison, photographs and computer monitors can also show as a portion of 2D data.

“While research in holography plays an important role in the development of futuristic displays and augmented reality devices, today we are working on many other applications such as ultra-thin and light-weight optical devices for cameras and satellites,” the lead researcher added.

The tiny device, which consists of millions of tiny silicon pillars that measure 500 times thinner than human hair, could most likely replace bulky parts of miniaturize cameras. With this, we can decrease the size and weight of optical equipments, which will allow us to save a lot when doing missions in space.

“This new material is transparent, which means it loses minimal energy from the light, and it also does complex manipulations with light,” said Dr Kruk from the ANU Research School of Physics and Engineering,” co-lead researcher Dr Sergey Kruk stated. “Our ability to structure materials at the nanoscale allows the device to achieve new optical properties that go beyond the properties of natural materials. The holograms that we made demonstrate the strong potential of this technology to be used in a range of applications.”

The device’s design, optical testing and fabrication, was led by ANU. Other researchers also those from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the United States and Nanjing University in China.