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A Floating 3D Display for Your Smartphone

Moving holograms like those used in 3D sci-fi movies such as Avatar and Elysium have to date only been seen in their full glory by viewers wearing special glasses.

Now researchers at Swinburne University have successfully demonstrated the capacity of a technique that uses graphene oxide and complex laser physics to create a pop-up floating display without the need for 3D glasses.

Through a photonic process that did not require heat or a change in temperature, the researchers were able to create nanoscale pixels of refractive index – the measure of the bending of light as it passes through a medium – of reduced graphene oxide. This is crucial for the subsequent recording of the individual pixels for holograms, and hence 3D viewing by the naked eye.

“If you can change the refractive index you can create lots of optical effects,” said Prof Min Gu. “Our technique can be leveraged to achieve compact and versatile optical components for controlling light. We can create the wide-angle display necessary for mobile phones and tablets.”

Team member Dr Xiangping Li added: “Owing to its atomic layer thickness and high mechanical strength, the use of graphene in mobile display units for flat two-dimensional displays is burgeoning. Our technology could also underpin future flexible and wearable display devices and transform them for 3D display.”

Gu said this new generation digital holographic 3D display technology also has applications for military devices, entertainment, remote education and medical diagnosis.

The research was published in Nature Communications.